There were several good things one heard last week, including a swift decision taken by the government to form a committee for decreasing road accidents. We also saw on the front page of this daily itself, how the government was constantly engaged in many other plans to develop the country for the welfare of the impoverished people and also the industrialists who are too suffering from the difficulties their industries are facing. From foreign policy to other directly related public issues, the present government seems it is trying its best in providing some sense of security and relief to the ordinary citizens of the nation.
But it is not that it does not have its detractors, some individuals and also media outlets have come out strongly against the decisions of the government and also of the present five-party alliance. They have come out against any good intentional efforts, just for popularity’s sake. But the government should not yield to any such pressure and sincerely try to uplift the life of simple and hardworking citizens of this country. To come back to the decision of the government to stop the number of accidents taking place in the difficult terrains of the country, it has done well to check the conditions of the vehicles plying with many passengers wishing to go back to their villages of origin to celebrate the festivals.
This writer had written many times in the past about the need to make aware the people and also vehicle owners about road safety, but all such suggestions fell on deaf ears. For example, people crossing the streets anywhere they want and vehicle owners talking on their mobile phones while driving are common sights. This is utterly wrong. The traffic police here which is already ill-equipped and not well manned, actually can do nothing except hold some ‘campaigns’ on few occasions.
There should be a long term policy to create awareness among the people and this has to be done from the early stages by including road awareness among the future adults of the country in the primary period, who otherwise think they are doing nothing wrong by crossing roads at any and every place with a wave of their hands or of drivers crossing speed limits and driving by abruptly changing lanes. There is no doubt there will be more mishaps during the festive season as hundreds of thousands of people will be travelling to celebrate the festivity with family and friends.
This is something which happens in almost all parts of the world, where individuals are engaged in their profession in far-away places and they have the opportunity to reunite with their loved ones only during a short period during festival occasions, so they don’t mind the travel. In Nepal also, bus and air tickets have been booked many days ahead and this clearly indicates the mood of the general public to enjoy the festivals, no matter what problems they may be facing in reality. The authorities, including the police, have also given directives to vehicle owners and also to those who leave their rented apartment to go back to their homes in villages to adhere to certain precautions to avoid any unpleasant experiences.
It is nothing surprising that incidents of simple thievery and other bigger crimes take place at this period when most people more eager to have a good time rather than taking precautions to save their material belongings. The alarming thing is even small crimes are now carried out in an organised manner with different people being involved, while desperate individuals carry out such crimes. So, apart from only giving directives on what the ordinary people should do, it would be more effective if the police bust such organised crimes and make the life of the people safer in the days to come and not only during the festive season.
But there is no doubt that people who go out for shopping or leave their rented apartments unattended are more vulnerable during this period. But while any monetary or materialistic things may be a bad experience for some people, especially those who put first in their priority list such things, the incidents of road mishaps is more hurtful.
As anyone knows, many townships around the country, especially capital city of Kathmandu, wears a deserted look during the festive season. What happens then is- how drivers of both four wheelers and two wheelers try to take advantage of the free roads, which they don’t see normally at other times. They try and speed freely to get to their destinations.
Naturally this brings more chances of accidents. To avoid such tragedies, apart from making the public aware of their responsibilities, it is also important for the traffic police to be more vigilant, so that the roads will be safer even during the festive season. One of the most frequent dangers during this time is, when drivers of privately owned vehicles tend to also drink while they know they will have to drive home afterwards.
This is a completely no, no, in almost every part of the world, so to avoid such carelessness, the police have to be more vigilant.
Even just hearing of road mishaps is shocking, but if people who are near and dear to you are involved, it becomes even more painful. So discouraging such habits is the responsibility of the society as well, so that no one suffers from any such an experience. This writer wishes to all that this festive season goes off well for all the people and as elections drawing very near, one hopes it will bring changes for the better and the prayers of the majority of Nepalis are answered in seeing such a future.
(Yug Bahadur is a freelancer.)