Better Order After The polls?
The local, provincial and national elections were completed in several phases in 2017 and most people had hoped that better law and order would prevail in the country after the polls. Unfortunately, such a logical and reasonable presumption proved to be nothing more than mere wishful thinking. The local elections were held in different phases from May to September last year and most people had hoped that things in their towns and villages would take a turn for the better. The dream of an ideal city or village life in the country is still a distant dream and the newly elected local representatives seem bent on continuing with the present state of affairs instead of trying to improve the living conditions. Many of the elected chiefs of town and rural entities still seem to talk and promise a lot without even trying to live up to a fraction of what they promise. We have been asked to dream of city metros - (why not mono-rails, as well?) - while no attempts are being made to control and regulate the chaos that prevails on the streets of the capital city.
Talking about the capital, the city has become a home to hundreds of thousands of people who have come here from the hills as well as the Terai as also from foreign countries. Not all of them own cars or motorcycles, and most walk on the streets to reach their destinations. The footpaths and pavements in the city are too narrow to cope with the human traffic. In many areas in the city, one has to jolt against each other or push the person in front in order to walk even at slow pace. The government in the past which took so much pain to broaden the roads - which was necessary - seemed to be blind to the needs of those who prefer to walk rather than catching a bus or riding on motorbikes or cars. The footpaths and pavements in most parts of the city are too narrow to meet the growing needs of the people.
To add to the problem of the people are the blatant illegal encroachment of the narrow space that shopkeepers and vendors indulge in. No one in authority in the local body seems to take notice of these illegal encroachment that obstruct the free flow of pedestrian traffic. The overhead bridges that are in place around Tundikhel area eat into the footpaths and serve for shops that further narrow the already narrow footpaths. The footpath in the south-west corner of Tundikhel has hardly space enough for two or three persons to walk together. Perhaps the newly elected members of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City might spare some consideration towards the plight of footpaths in the capital. The butcher shops in the inner parts of the city need to be properly managed and regulated so that the offensive odour does not spread around the area.
It might be noted that such shops in the other parts of the city are much better regulated than those in the inner parts. These are little but significant areas to which our new representatives must pay attention to rather than building tall structures meant primarily to enrich themselves or their municipalities. A living example is the proposed construction of a skyscraper mall where once was a bus depot. The rationale for such a wise move can only be known to the Kathmandu Metropolis! One can only hope that other urban areas in the country will take note of the foolhardy moves of the capital’s municipality and honestly and earnestly seek to avoid such fallacies that might yield short term gains but could prove to be a long time liability to the people.
One of the prime needs for large towns and cities are playing fields for the people, especially the youths. Healthy outdoor activities are the need of every young person- even old ones - as it keeps them fit and keep them away from bad practices such as drugs. Outdoor activities also help everyone in the long run in keeping them healthy till the old age. Thus, the newly elected local representatives must see to it that their areas have adequate number of playgrounds and healthy recreational centres to keep the youths engaged in activities that are healthy, both physically and mentally. The capital city hardly has enough playgrounds for the youths of the city and, it is to be hoped, that other urban areas in the country do not follow the Kathmandu pattern and take care to ensure that the young - the future of the country - have enough open space to pass their time in a healthy manner.
The legislative polls for the parliament and provincial assemblies were completed in late November and early December. Amid uncertainties, the present impasse cannot last forever. And whichever party forms the next government, it is their prime responsibility to meet the hopes and aspirations of the people who elected them. Considering the squabbling among different political parties and even differences within each party, the road ahead seems to be long and hard. But this is what the people have elected them for and one can only hope that better law and order and overall life for the people will be main agenda of those who form the government and sit in the opposition.