The year 2074 ushered in new traffic rules in Nepal. Rules to do with zebra crossings and no-horn were immediately implemented, and instant actions were taken against those who did not follow them. On the first day of the rule implementation, Rs. 200 was fined to those who broke the law. The traffic police were actively participating in implementing the new rules. But, many citizens did not know much about the rules, so there was a huge outbreak on social media sites. Now, rumors of new rules are emerging, which is making the public confused, as ever. On this particular context, we talked to Police Inspector Sitaram Hachhetu, who is stationed in Bhaktapur. Here is what he has to say.
Please tell us a little about the new traffic rules and the reasons behind them.
From Baisakh 2, we implemented the “No horn” rule and strict use of zebra crossings and overhead bridges. The traffic has increased a lot these past few years, the vehicles, population, and noise pollution are also increasing rapidly. Now, a proper system should be implemented concerning both the pedestrians and drivers to decrease possible accidents and mishaps. If we continue with these random parking and road crossings and improper use of horns, it will become unmanageable in a few years. Now, footpath is strictly for pedestrians only, no one can park their vehicles there, and no pedestrians can walk randomly on the roads. Also, we have made sure that the drivers stop in front of the zebra crossing if people are using it, and not use the horn unless it’s an emergency.
How do you make sure that the rules are properly implemented?
First of all, more traffic police are active on the roads than before, since people only follow the traffic rules in the presence of an officer. Almost 95% of accidents occur in the place where traffic police are not present. It is a fact that we cannot overlook. So, we are actively monitoring the use of zebra crossings. If someone is not using them, then we provide them with an hour of class on traffic rules then and there. It’s the same for the drivers who do not stop in front of zebra crossings.
During the first week of Baisakh, Rs 200 was fined to those who did not use zebra crossings. Why was it discontinued?
Initially, we implemented that rule to make the public aware about it. There was a high chance that the public would ignore the whole concept. Since there were consequences for not following the rule, we hoped that people would follow the rule strictly. We discontinued the use of fine after people followed the rule properly.
There is a rumor that two-wheelers are going to be banned inside the ring road, is it true?
If we could ban the two-wheelers inside ring road, then traffic jams would be less, but it’s not possible and practical to do so. There is no proper public transportation facility inside the valley. Most public buses don’t run after 6:00/7:00 p.m. and the taxis are very expensive for day to day use. People will have to face a lot of difficulties in travelling if two-wheelers are banned. So, we are not going to ban the two-wheelers.
Anything you want to say to the public through this interview?
We traffic police risk our health to help the public, the increasing pollution has affected our health very badly. Since we are giving 100% from our side, the public should also cooperate. These traffic rules are made for their safety only, so they should take them seriously. First of all, the thinking of people should be changed, instead of changing the traffic rules. People should follow traffic rules even if traffic police are not present. The feeling should come from within; we cannot always force them to follow the rules. Also, media should help make people aware about the rules and regulations time and again. Traffic rules should be taught to everyone, especially the kids in school, since they are our future generation. If the public cooperates with us in following the traffic rules, we can decrease the accidents by 80 percent.