Saturday, July 5, 2008

Uncomfortable and risky travel: The Kathmandu Post

Published on The Kathmandu Post, July 3 2008 (Post Platform)

Few days ago, I was going to Ratna Park by microbus sitting in the driver cabin. The front seats of microbus, which are for two people, were already packed. On the way, the vehicle stopped for a waiting passenger and the conductor suggested me to share the seat. I told him the seat was just for two people, but he told me that I should pay the fare of two if I couldn't manage a little space for that passenger. Not being in a mood to start a quarrel, I decided to sit very uncomfortably.
Passengers traveling by public vehicles experience a lot of stress. Sometimes, they should juggle up in the limited seats. It seems vehicles never get packed of passengers. They load the passengers until the vehicles are jam-packed and a few are hanging outside the door risking their lives. Are the passengers that much in a hurry to travel with such discomfort and risk? Or, are the vehicle staffs and local transportation controllers and operators so hungry of money? Even the traffic police are silent spectators while the rules are being violated. Who is to blame-passengers, drivers, vehicle owners, or the law enforcement bodies?
Moreover, there are numerous other problems. The vehicles are never punctual. They stop for the passengers at any place but the passengers have to wait for the right stop to get down. If there is no traffic police around, the vehicles frequently stop for a long time for passengers. Passengers' pleas to move on will be simply ignored.
Bus conductor is a low grade profession, not only because they are less paid but because they are less educated and undisciplined. The majority of conductors are unruly and rude. They usually use vulgar language and signs. Their behavior with passengers is very rude and inhumane. They behave with the passengers by judging their outer look or status. Most of them try to be dishonest while collecting fares. Similarly, drivers operating in the same routes never seem to have friendly attitudes towards each other. They sometimes give passengers a rude shock while overtaking each other dangerously in the narrow and busy roads.
But when it comes to enforcing new laws and rules, they are always for hiking fares. We need a lot of change intheir attitude and behaviour so as to ensure smooth travel. But the disputes and controversies are always for price and power. No one raises their voice for moral traits to be maintained by the vehicles staffs and operators. What about the ethics of conduct, punctuality and passenger seat? Have our law-makers thought of these matters? Why are the authorities not implementing the traffic rules these days?

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