6 October, Kathmandu. The bus (No. 1 Kha 3167) carrying students returning home on Dashain holiday fell into the Pinatpane River at Chhayanath Rara Municipality-7 of Mugu on September 15. 33 killed Done.
Twenty-four people died on the spot and others died while undergoing treatment when a bus heading to Gamgadhi, the district headquarters of Mugu, passing through Surkhet in Nepalgunj fell 200 meters down a steep dirt road on the day of flowering.
The accident on the eve of Dashain not only plunged the people of Mugu into mourning, but also shocked the country. The government also announced free treatment for the injured.
Two days before the incident, a student jeep traveling to Ghandruk at Annapurna Gaonpalika-10, Hudu Kaldanda Bhir in Kaski met with an accident.
The driver of the jeep (Ga 1 Ja 6900) Khusiman Chhetri of Annapurna Gaonpalika-5 and a student from Kathmandu, Gongbu died on the spot.
The day before the accident in Kaski, three people were killed in a jeep accident near Waling-10, Madikhola in Syangja. Dal Bahadur Palli, 77, Ganga Palli, 32, and Karisma, 4, of Lihudanda in Galyang Municipality-10 lost their lives.
The incidents presented are the three ‘biggest’ accidents in the decade this year. According to Central Police Spokesperson Basanta Bahadur Kunwar, there have been 920 accidents this year. At least 165 people have been killed and 1,551 injured in the incidents. The highest number of 781 motorcycle accidents was reported, followed by 336 jeep and car accidents.
There were 856 road accidents in the period from Ghatsthapana to Punirma in 2077 BS, in which 114 people lost their lives. In the same period of 2075, 129 people were killed in 568 accidents and in 2074 BS, 104 people lost their lives in 280 accidents.
The number of accidents increases every decade, but the number of accidents has not decreased due to the lack of interest shown by the concerned bodies. A large number of road accidents occur every year during the festival.
However, experts say that the number of accidents has not decreased due to lack of effective control. Road safety expert Padam Shahi says, “No body has taken any serious initiative to reduce road accidents.”
The cause of the accident
According to Mugu Police Chief Chitra Bahadur Bhattarai, a preliminary investigation has shown that 33 people were killed in the accident.
A three-member investigation committee formed by the Karnali State Police Office, Surkhet under the coordination of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Birendra Vir Bishwakarma is yet to submit a report.
According to DSP Bhattarai of Mugu, the road where the accident took place is the only unpaved road so far. “At first, the locals heard a loud bang, but then they saw the bus falling,” he said.
He said that it was estimated that the accident may have taken place due to a flat tire. The police investigation has shown that the accident in Kaski may have been caused by a mechanical fault.
According to the District Police Office, Kaski, road maintenance work was underway near the accident site on the day of the accident. The workers stopped the jeep saying that they would remove the stone. At some point, the jeep did not pick up the signal to move forward, but fell down the cliff as it was descending backwards. The state traffic police office is investigating the cause of the incident.
The main cause of the accident in which three people were killed in Waling of Syangja was overload. “Only five of them were carrying 19 people,” said Syangja Police Chief SP Hovindra Bogati.
He said that the driver jumped out of the vehicle when the vehicle started descending. “The damage was lessened by the other people in the back,” he said. “Those in the front couldn’t get out.”
Retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Nepal Police Purnachandra Joshi says that the main weakness is seen in most of the road accidents. “First the driver, then the mechanical malfunction and the condition of the road are responsible for the accident,” said Joshi, former chief of the police’s traffic and highway safety directorate.
According to SP Bogati of Syangja, infrastructure is also the cause of accidents in rural areas. “The dozers run on normal logs. The vehicles can’t pull when they are overloaded on a dilapidated road,” he said.
There is no focus on minimization
Not only during the festive season, but also at other times, the situation is alarming. According to the Police Headquarters, Naxals, 3,616 road accidents have taken place in the first five months of the fiscal year 2078/07. At least 332 people have been killed and 1,054 seriously injured in the incidents.
There are statistics that 20 thousand 640 road accidents have taken place in the fiscal year 2077/07, in which 2500 people have died and 6 thousand 448 have been seriously injured. Two thousand 251 people have been killed and 4 thousand 615 seriously injured in 15 thousand 559 road accidents in the fiscal year 076/077 BS.
Two thousand 789 people have been killed and 163 seriously injured in 13 thousand 366 road accidents in the fiscal year 2075/076 BS. Two thousand 541 people have been killed and four thousand 144 seriously injured in 10 thousand 965 road accidents in the fiscal year 2074/07.
Two thousand 384 people have been killed and four thousand 250 seriously injured in 10 thousand 178 road accidents in the fiscal year 2073/07. Looking at the statistics, it is seen that more than two thousand people are losing their lives in road accidents every year.
According to former DIG Joshi, everyone knows that there will be more accidents during the festival. Everybody is aware of the large number of casualties in accidents every year. However, he said that the number of deaths due to accidents has not decreased due to lack of effective initiatives for mitigation.
Former DIG Joshi recalls that the traffic police used to run awareness programs like ‘This year’s festival, accident-free festival’ a month before Dashain last year. He says that this time the traffic has not been able to run such an effective campaign.
Not an effective check
Traffic is not the only role in reducing accidents, it requires the equal activism of the Department of Roads, Transportation Management Office, the state government and local bodies. But there is no inter-agency coordination. Now a separate body should be formed to work on accident reduction – Padam Shahi, Road Safety Specialist
In the experience of SP Bogati of Syangja, there is a tendency to follow traffic rules only when you see policemen standing on the road.
“We check the vehicles going to the hilly areas,” he says.
Former traffic police inspector Sitaram Hachethu says that the traffic check has not been effective. “Traffic checks are limited to measuring and checking documents,” he said. “Most accidents are caused by the condition of the vehicle. Who will check it?”
The traffic police had brought the traffic communication app in 2075 BS to reduce road accidents. Police said that an app has been developed to implement the legal provision that two drivers must be kept in long distance vehicles. At that time, in Nagdhunga of Kathmandu, Karmaiya of Sarlahi, Bhumahi of Nawalparasi and Kohalpul of Banke, the driver was checked from this app.
But this year, the traffic app has not been used for decades. In the app, the driver’s photo was taken at a certain point and the vehicle number, departure and destination were registered and kept on the internet server. On the same basis, when checking at another place, it was easy to know whether the driver had changed or not.
Former police inspector Hachethu says, “The reason for many accidents during the festival is to drive in an unhappy condition.” According to him, the traffic congestion is still high in Dashain.
However, he said that they did not pay attention to the need to add more when there was a shortage of vehicles. “Isn’t it possible for the government to add vehicles to the villages in the decade?” He asks. He said that arrangements should be made for medical examination of the driver in some places as it is known that many accidents happen during the festival.
According to Hachethu, not only traffic activism is enough to reduce accidents, but also the Department of Transport Management and the Department of Roads should be aware.
Director General of the Department Namaraj Ghimire said that the federal government has set up vehicle testing centers at Teku, Hetauda and Butwal in Kathmandu to check the condition of vehicles. Ghimire says, “The state has also set up a vehicle inspection center at the transport office, where annual vehicle inspection passes must be taken.”
The responsibility is not only of traffic
According to Hachethu, a former police inspector, it is the responsibility of the traffic police to reduce the number of accidents. Former DIG Joshi also says that there is a tendency to pretend to be in charge of traffic even if it rains, landslides or the road is damaged.
According to Hachethu, the transport department, the ministry, the government and every section of the society should be equally responsible for reducing accidents.
“Everyone should think that the traffic rules are for themselves, not just for fear of traffic,” he said.
There are statistics that 20 thousand 640 road accidents have taken place in the fiscal year 2077/07, in which 2500 people have died and 6 thousand 448 have been seriously injured.
Hachethu says that there is a problem even when there is no method to check the condition of the carrier while updating the license. “Once you get a license, it’s not like getting a citizenship or a passport for the rest of your life,” Hachethu told Online News.
He suggested that if a driver drives recklessly, his license should be suspended for a certain period of time. “Good drivers can be rewarded and encouraged,” says Hachethu. He says that even if the vehicle can be monitored by installing GPS or CCTV camera, the number of accidents can be reduced.
According to road safety expert Padam Shahi, there is confusion among the stakeholders as to who will take the initiative in reducing road accidents. “The role of the road department, transport management office, state government and local bodies is important,” he said. For that, a separate body should be formed to work on accident reduction, said Shahi.
Stating that there is a separate body in India to take the lead on accident related issues, he said, “We also need to take initiative for that.”