From a home in Naubise, Mr. Subedi stares into the distance – he has to leave for Kathmandu, but the traffic stretch along the highway is discouraging. A train like caravan has formed on the winding highway that takes one to Kathmandu. Vehicles wait for the vehicle in front of them to move – sometimes covering a distance of a mere foot after waiting for 10 minutes.
The Naubise – Kalanki stretch, around 20 kilometres is something a commuter/driver always mentally prepare themselves for – sometimes you can cross it in one hour, while sometimes it may take up to 3 hours. If the situation is absolutely worse – then it may take around 5 hours like it did for thousands of commuters today.
Several factors are said to have caused the snarling traffic jam:
- Repairs along the road for the upcoming Dashain season which has made the highway a ‘no-overtaking’ zone.
- Extra trucks arriving into Kathmandu to supply extra stock for the upcoming festival season.
- Poor traffic management along the stretch.
- Ongoing roadworks along the Nagdhunga – Kalanki stretch, worsened by the monsoons.
- Breaking down of heavy vehicles like trucks along the highway.
The roots of the problem can be pointed to accountability – the public like today’s commuters have several questions, but have no one to answer them.
- Why is the road being reconstructed at such a peak time?
- Can there not be made better preparations to avoid this? Do the public have to suffer every year?
- What is up with the Kalanki-Nagdhunga road? Construction seems to be going on for an eternity.
We raise the issue because of its re-occurrence – a similar thing had happened around the same time last year, and will occur next year again, unless better accountability is sought.