A Short Story: In the name of Road Safety in Nepal!

Road Safety(Photo Source: Google)

“I hope you all have recognized us from our uniforms”

Remaining in my seat, I looked up and there stood two young traffic officers, in their unmistakable blue uniforms, at the entrance of our Wi-Fi enabled night coach heading to Kathmandu from Birgunj. The bus had left Ghantaghar Chowk, Birgunj just minutes ago. It was around 8:25 pm and I was eagerly hoping to reach Hetauda soon to breathe some cold air to avoid blistering heat (even after the sunsets, no kidding!) of Birgunj.

The bus was well occupied with passengers except for few rows in the back. Everyone was surprised by the resounding voice of the traffic police as we thought it was just one of those regular security checks and not much.

“As per routine, we performed an alcohol check on your driver and it came out positive. Do you want to ride on a bus which is driven by a drunk driver?”

The news from the officer took all of us by surprise. Passengers started looking at each other in disbelief and some, including me, were even shaking their heads in negative, searching for words to respond to the traffic officers. The recent killings of dozens of people in Kavre and Chitwan bus accidents were fresh in our memories.

I don’t know why but I started visualizing those tragic news and videos in my head. It was clear from the silence and soft murmur of the passengers that nobody wanted the drunk driver.

“We are taking your driver into our custody for now. The owner of your bus-transportation service will have to send another driver. It might take another hour or so. Please be patient. It is only for your safety”

After those brief statements, the two officers left the bus along with the driver while the bus conductor followed them anxiously. There was no point in sitting inside the bus now since we were already sweating excessively. One by one almost everyone was out of the bus which was standing by the road, in the middle of almost nowhere.

Although I was sad that Hetauda will be delayed by another hour, I sighed in relief thinking that probably our bus just averted being in the headlines of tomorrow’s news for all the bad reasons.

We boarded the bus again after around an hour. On the way to my seat, I noticed that the new driver looked quite young and he, sitting on driver’s seat, was familiarizing and checking all the driving gears in his cabin. Obviously he was not driving his usual vehicle. I was worried about the new driver’s driving skills when someone behind me whispered that it was the new driver’s third similar trip in this week alone, surprisingly for the same reason. Surprised! But another sigh of relief!!

When the new driver cranked the engine and passengers were seated, the traffic officer reappeared inside the bus. 

“You got a new driver and he will be driving you to your destination” he said, smiling a bit this time.

All of a sudden I asked “Did you do the alcohol check on him as well?”

“Of course, he is clean. You all have a safe journey now!” he said amusingly and got off the bus.

To make the Story Short, we safely made it to Kathmandu the following morning:)

Breathing test of bus drivers is one good measure to prevent road accidents in this country. There are many other areas which need sincere attention such as, improving roads, policies, rules, regulations, management, system, administration, awareness and last but not the least ‘SAFETY ATTITUDE’ of all the stakeholders involved, including government, politicians, authorities, administrators, bus-managers, concerned transport committees, drivers and even passengers.

It’s high time now we stopped playing blame-game coz above all Safety Matters and it must be the number one priority of everyone.

Also Read:

Environmental Sustainability, Evolution and Natural Selection

Teach for Nepal: Passing the light

 

COVID-19: Disinfecting Your Homes and Offices

Covid-19 Pandemic: Safe Return to Work and Business Continuity

Ensuring Occupational Health & Safety by Managing Risk

Construction Industry: Fatal (Focus-Four) Hazards

Fire Prevention and Fire Protection – Air Pollution in Kathmandu – Construction PPE – Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Electrical Safety – Fall Protection in General Industry– Fearsome 4 of Construction Safety – Fall Restrain System Vs. Fall Arrest System – Respiratory Protection – Portable Ladder Safety – Confined Space Entry – Initiating First Aid/CPR – Are you too busy… – If you have $86,400 in your account… – Safety professionals have job prospects as Insurance Risk Surveyor or Loss Assessor

* * * *

Gorkha Earthquake vs Tourism Sector in Nepal

….as per the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), National Planning Commission, the total damages and losses caused by the Gorkha Earthquake 2015 is NPR 706 billion (US$ 7.0 billion) which is about one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in FY 2013-2014.

In the aftermath of the disaster, while considering individual sectors of social and economic activity, the Housing & Human Settlements sustained about 50 percent of the damages and losses followed by the Tourism sector at 11 percent.

The environment, education, finance and agriculture sectors represent between 4-5 percent each of the total disaster effects. Compared to all the socio-economic sectors, Tourism incurred highest disaster effect in terms of losses i.e. NPR 62 billion. 

It is also important to note that out of the total damages and loses incurred by the country, the private sectors have sustained over 3 times in damages and losses (NPR 540 billion) compared to the public sectors (NPR 166 billion)

It is estimated that the overall impact will translate into a reduced number of annual tourist arrival; about 40 percent, on average, over the next 12 months, and another 20 percent reduction in the following 12 to 24 months. Likewise, the tourist spending per day will be reduced from US$ 46.4 to US$ 35, which will be a great setback for the revenue generation in coming years. The loss of tourism revenue alone is estimated to be over NPR 47 billion.

A total NPR 62.4 billion of revenue losses is estimated due to a combination of losses in tourism including air transport, trekking, tour operations, restaurant and costs of debris removal & future promotional campaigns for tourism.

Overall, the Nepalese tourism industry experienced over NPR 81 billion in damages and losses due to the catastrophic earthquake. This amount is 11% of the total cost of damages and losses incurred by the country….

(NOTE: Please click below links to see the entire research article in 3-part installments)

(Part I) The Gorkha Earthquake 2015: Economic Impact on Nepal Tourism

(Part II) The Gorkha Earthquake 2015: Economic Impact on Nepal Tourism

(Part III) The Gorkha Earthquake 2015: Economic Impact on Nepal Tourism

* * * *

Gorkha Earthquake 2015: Preparedness Lessons

Recalling the immediate moments after the major shaking of 25th April, 2015, Ms. Sita Shrestha a resident of Thankot, Chandragiri Municipality, Nepal, said “As soon as the shaking stopped, I took my son and daughter out of the house along with our Go-Bag”. She knew that Go-Bag was important but had never imagined that it could be so much useful under those chaotic circumstances.

She further added “At the time, many items out of the Go-Bag were very useful such as radio, tarpaulin, blanket, soap, Dettol, medications, torch-light, tooth pastes and even playing cards”. She was happy that playing cards kept the young boys awake in the nights which was good for the safety of the area. “This single Go Bag, I had stored, had been so useful to many of us. I thought what if everyone had their own Go Bag?” asked Sita rhetorically.

Mr. Hariman Singh Dangol, who lives nearby the renowned Nuwakot Palace in Nuwakot District, is an elderly local priest at the Bhairavi Temple close to the palace. Recalling the learnings from his old folks, Mr. Dangol actively demonstrated his earthquake-safe behavior that he applied inside the temple when the ground started shaking on that fateful day of the Gorkha Earthquake.

Mr. Manoj Tamang, a local resident of Laharepauwa VDC in Rasuwa District, mentioned that his younger brother was studying in the ground floor of a two-story house on the day of the Gorkha Earthquake. “He could run and go out but he chose to go under the bed during the earthquake; he learned this at his school” said Manoj painfully. On that day, Manoj lost his brother to the quake as the house collapsed and crushed the bed.

From Bidur Municipality-3 in Nuwakot District, Ms. Samita Dangol, a local shopkeeper, revealed her brave story and how she was able to rescue her two younger sisters even after the two-story house collapsed miserably. “The two school girls saved their lives taking shelter under the bed on the 2nd floor. This wouldn’t be possible if the bed was fragile or box-type” said Samita convincingly….

(NOTE: Please click the link below to read the entire article “’Go-Bag’ & ‘DCH’: Enough said, let’s make it right!”)

“Go-Bag” & “DCH”: Enough said, let’s make it right!

* * * *