Perennial Road Risks
A preliminary police probe into a deadly tipper accident in Lo Gekar Damodarkunda Gaupalika in Mustang district has found that overloading and over speeding had led to the road disaster. Twenty persons died in the tipper accident recently and two dozen others were injured. This is a road accident of serious kind but surely not the first of it type in which passengers and the driver were killed. Rate of road accidents are high in Nepal, especially in the roads and highways running in the rural areas. This has remained a perennial challenge in Nepal’s transportation sector. Instead of concrete measures from concerned quarters to address this issue, authorities seem to be beating around the bush and leaving things to take care of themselves. The general public has felt it strongly that road indiscipline is the main reason of increasing road accidents. Though some restrictive measures have been taken in some urban centres to control the tendency of driving under the influence of alcohol, drunk driving is rampant in outlying highways and rural areas. The nation has witnessed a surge in rural road expansion in recent years. This may be positive sign for the development of the country but opening roads and leaving them in poor condition often invite disastrous consequences. Environmentally speaking, landslides, deforestation and drying up of traditional water sources are some of the new problems. Road accidents are of major concern for the public and problem remains unaddressed due to lack of legal and administrative measures.
The pattern of the problem is that concerned authorities do not bother to take actions against erring transport operators, drivers and helpers who are defiant and disobedient due to powerful syndicate and well funded trade unions. These people were used by some political parties in the past to paralyse the public mobility and put pressure on rival political forces. Even the government is often reluctant to take stringent actions against them. Nepal is a haven for those who want to enjoy boozing. The highways are overly stocked with alcoholic drinks even if there is a shortage of basic essentials. The rural areas lack police vigilance and drunk driving is widespread. The wheel happy drivers want to boot their mood and courage on the road with alcoholic drinks giving little thought to the condition of the roads and road rules. High on the effect of boozing they underestimate the dangers lurking ahead. For the sake of profit, overcrowding of passengers in buses and jeeps is common. Given the bad condition of the roads, monsoon time is more prone to road accidents. In the rural areas, mud and potholes rule the roost throughout the rainy season. It is the responsibility of the local level authorities to upgrade the standard of the rural roads in view of the monsoon related risks. If a particular road is not worthy to operate vehicles, the authorities need to ban operation of transport at all. At least they can put in place some regulations to control overcrowding of vehicles and drunk driving. This could bring down road accidents to a significant level if not under full control.