The festival travel rush is well under way. Every day thousands of people are leaving Kathmandu and other major city areas for their hometowns to celebrate Dashain.
But for many people, traveling is often fraught with accident risks. The number of road accidents surges during the Dashain holiday. This is mainly attributed to vehicles carrying passengers beyond their capacity, high speed and reckless driving. The risk is further compounded by the poor state of the road, particularly in the hill and mountain regions.
Like in previous festival seasons, this time too the government has implemented a ‘time card’ system to discourage speeding mainly on major highways. Additionally, it has decided not to allow vehicles to carry passengers beyond their capacity.
But if past experiences are anything to go by, these measures are hardly implemented or followed. There is always a shortage of public vehicles during the festival time because the number of people traveling is very high. So, the authorities concerned cannot make people not travel in crowded vehicles. People want to reach their homes to celebrate the festival with their loved ones.
Moreover, the government has issued travel rules targeting major highways when most accidents during the festival times occur in rural roads. Already in bad shape, the condition of most roads leading to small towns and villages of Nepal are further deteriorated by monsoon rains.
These roads are seldom repaired. They have to be rendered completely impassable for the authorities concerned to take notice. What is more, old and outdated vehicles ply these roads, making travel all the more dangerous.
The government and its concerned agencies should bear in mind that by just merely issuing some rules and guidelines weeks ahead of the festival cannot prevent road accidents.
Instead, they should prepare well in advance, get to the root causes of road accidents that happen during the festival season and implement the safety measures.
Rules that are ad hoc and short-term are not going to work, and most definitely not going to prevent road accidents from happening during the festival season.