Obviously, Kathmandu is one of the most crowded cities in the world. Since Prithvi Narayan Shah made it the capital of Nepal and settled here after his victory over the city 250 years ago, it has always seen a growing influx of people from other parts of the country. It was natural for people to migrate to Kathmandu during the centralised system of governance. However, Kathmandu still draws many people from other places though the state has already adopted a federal model of government. With growing population and the consequent increase in the number of vehicles, traffic management has become a staggering task in the Kathmandu Valley. Traffic police have said that the number of vehicles plying on Kathmandu roads has reached an unmanageable proportion. According to available figures, out of roughly 3.3 million vehicles registered across the country, 1.2 million have been registered in Bagmati zone, 90 per cent of which ply on Kathmandu roads. Apart from this, numerous vehicles registered in other parts of the country are brought to Kathmandu, piling up pressure on the streets.
However, the Traffic Department does not possess adequate human resource to meet the growing challenge; neither is it well equipped for the task. Poor condition of roads is another problem in regard to the management of vehicles. Rough roads with potholes here and there hamper the smooth movement of traffic often causing congestions and jams. And the roads lack enough traffic lights; only a few cross-sections have traffic lights installed and fewer are in working condition so the traffic police have to manage the vehicles personally/manually. Besides, traffic management has also been difficult because there is low compliance on the part of public as well as private vehicle operators. How can these problems be overcome and the traffic made more systematic? We know that the traffic problem is an outcome of overpopulation, hence the government must implement the federal system in its true sense so that people from outside the Kathmandu Valley are not compelled to visit Kathmandu even to get minor jobs done. And everyone is cognizant of the fact that the number of private vehicles is going up continuously in Kathmandu due to the absence of a reliable public transport system. So the government must adopt a policy that gives priority to public transport rather than private commuting. The incumbent government has encouraged the registration of large public vehicles instead of smaller ones in an attempt to make public transport more convenient and reliable.
The traffic police on their part must devise realistic plans to develop and deploy enough human resource on the road. At the same time, they should intensify awareness campaigns for the public that will be instrumental in reducing traffic violations and accidents. According to a news report in this daily, the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) has been engaged in education, enforcement and engineering initiatives to improve traffic management in the valley. The Community-Police Partnership Programme has been running awareness programmes about traffic rules, road discipline, driving security and behaviour for public and private vehicle operators, school and college students and the pedestrians. Since traffic management involves a number of agencies including the traffic police, Department of Transport Management, Department of Roads, Department of Sewerage, Nepal Electricity Authority and Nepal Telecom, they should work in close coordination to accomplish the task successfully.