Nepal Today

Saturday, December 29, 2012

SUNDAY IS BEING CELEBRATED AS TAMU LOSHAR Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Sunday is being celebrated as Tamu Loshar. By the Gurug community. Government has announced a public holiday. Nnnn 142 KILLED, 514 INJURED IN ROAD ACCIDENTS Kathmandu, 30 Dec..: After a deadly road accident claimed 15 people in Surkhet district on Friday morning, the Traffic Police updated statistics about road accidents. And, the results were shocking: Altogether 142 people died and 514 were injured in 238 road accidents that occurred in the last nine months in the mid-western region alone, Khalendra Sejuwal reports in Republica.. In Nepal, the rate of deaths due to road accidents is probably higher than by anything else. Not even cardiac arrests or AIDS claim as many lives as road accident do. Unfortunately, however shocked they are at the ever rising number of road accidents -- most of them simply avoidable, government authorities appear least bothered about doing away with problems that cause road mishaps. Low-quality roads (bumpy, narrow or muddy), use of old or nearly broken down vehicles, unscientific method of issuing driving licenses, overloading, weak traffic check system and negligence by drivers have been identified as the major causes of road accidents. “It is not that concerned government bodies are unmindful of these causes,” says DIG Tapendra Dhwaj Hamal, the chief of the Midwestern Traffic Police Office. “But, as they do not try to address these issues, accidents are occurring almost regularly.” On August 30 this year, altogether 28 people died when a bus veered off Karnali Highway. Later, it was concluded that the poor condition of the highway, which connects Jumla with Surkhet, was the major reason behind that deadly accident. However, upgrading the Karnali Highway, which is too narrow and bumpy to be called a highway, is yet not in the priority list of the government. As old buses crammed with passengers continue to ply the Karnali Highway, another deadly accident can occur anytime in the future. In the midwestern region, other roads are also in a very sorry state. “As roads are very bad, a new bus wears out in a matter of 3-4 years,” says Bishnu Bahadur Khadka, chairman of the Midwestern Transport Entrepreneurs´ Association. “It is always a high risk to drive buses on narrow, bumpy and muddy roads.” To an extent, Khadka is right. But, drivers and/or public transport entrepreneurs are equally responsible for frequent road accidents. However aware at the risk of driving on narrow and bumpy roads, they always squeeze as many passengers as they can into their bus, which also increases the risk of road accidents. Along the Dhuliyabit-Bhedabari road of Surkhet, where the latest deadly accident occurred, it is quite rare to see a bus that is not jam-packed. “In such crammed buses, there is not enough space even for standing on both feet,” says Dilmaya Birkatta, a local resident. “It is not unnatural that such buses often meet with accidents.” In many cases, accidents have occurred due to drink-driving. Although the Traffic Police have intensified a campaign to curb drink-driving across the country in recent times, it has yet to make an impact on those who drive after drinking, especially on long routes. And, it is easy to get driving licenses by bribing government staff. “If driving license distribution system is fair and old buses do not get route permit, the number of road accidents will automatically decline,” says DIG Hamal. However, Om Basnet of Bheri Zonal Transport Management Office is not ready to accept the blame. “We do not approve ownership transfer or route transfer of over 20-year-old vehicles,” says Basnet. “If people use their old vehicles without obtaining approval from our office, what can we do? We can´t go out and catch them.” Nnnn SPECIAL COMMITTEE MEET INCONCLUSIVE EPUBLICA KATHMANDU, Dec 29: A meeting of the Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of the Maoist combatants held on Saturday ended inconclusively after committee members differed over the compensation amount to be given to the combatants, who earlier chose integration but now want voluntary retirement. Though they had reached an agreement in principle to allow nearly 40 combatants to give up military training, the committee members failed to reach to any decision on the compensation amount. They have demanded that they be given a package similar to combatants who opted for voluntary retirement earlier. Talking to media persons after the meeting, Special Committee member from CPN-UML Bhim Rawal said there an agreement has been made to allow combatants to quit training on humanitarian grounds. "The meeting decided to allow Nepal Army to relieve incapable combatants," he said, adding that they have not reached any agreement on compensation amount. Special Committee members from the opposition parties had argued in the meeting that the since the combatants undergoing Nepal Army training are governed by the Military Act, they cannot be given any compensation. However, ruling party members had argued that they should not be denied compensation on “humanitarian ground”. The government had provided Rs 500,000 to Rs 800,000 to each of the retiring combatants depending on their rank in the Maoist army. The ruling party members in the Special Committee had proposed that 40 combatants be given at least 75 percent of amount given to combatants retiring earlier. Altogether 1,442 former Maoist combatants, including 70 in the officer rank, are current receiving military training. As it is punishable under Military Act to quit the training halfway, nearly 40 combatants currently undergoing training have demanded that they be allowed to choose voluntary retirement with the voluntary retirement package. Earlier, the committee had asked then Special Committee Coordinator Bala Nanda Sharma to submit a report on combatants wishing to quit training. nnnn


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