Kathmandu, Mar. 14: Traffic lights continue to get disrupted in the major city centres of Kathmandu forcing manual traffic management in the smart metropolis. At least one-third of the traffic lights have not been functioning for over a month out of 100 traffic lights installed in various junctions of the Kathmandu Valley.
Traffic lights at the main junctions, including Jadibuti, Koteshwor, Tinkune, Thapathali and Kamalpokhari have failed to function for the past few months. Authorities claim that they have been working to introduce smart lights but continuous disruptions have forced manual traffic management by the traffic police.
Despite repeated claims to manage the expanded road networks and traffic disruption of the service has marred the traffic management, and hampered the riders in the city. The problem has persisted because of different government agencies’ engagement and roles in traffic management system. Traffic police division’s role is to maintain the traffic basically by traffic police in major junctions; the Department of Roads functions as an agency to install traffic lights, and their maintenance. Lack of coordination between these agencies has further aggravated the situation in smart traffic management system.
A senior traffic officer at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, who asked to be unnamed, said that traffic lights in 33 traffic intersections have not been
functioning. “We are there only to shake our hands when the light is not operating, apart from that, we have no authority to do anything to maintain the lights,” he said. According to Bel Bahadur Bhujel, chief of the Vehicle Management and Traffic Section under the Department of Road, the maintenance work is underway in the problematic areas and will be solved soon.
“Sometimes traffic police themselves turn off the light, and we also see some lights are not working,” Bhujel claimed. Two months ago, the Department of Roads said it had been adding traffic lights in a few more places in the Valley in a bid to ease traffic congestion. These places are Jadibuti, Koteshwor, Thapathali, Durbar Marga and Kesharmahal, but traffic lights in these areas are still not functioning.
“The traffic light in Thapathali has not been functioning for the last two years, but the concerned authority has not given attention to it, the traffic officer said. There is a plan to maintain the already connected lights for now and a plan to bring Intelligent Traffic Light System (ITLS) in all the traffic junctions in the Valley.
“We are in discussion phase now and the Valley will get intelligent traffic lights by next fiscal year,” he informed. Some 44 ITLS will be fitted for the first phase among 100 traffic junctions in the Valley, Bhujel said.
He said that the lights at every crossroad will be managed differently and they would be brought under the same management after the installation of the new system. Presently, the traffic police are responsible to determine how long to keep the red or green light on as per the pressure of vehicles. After the new system is switched on it will automatically carry out such tasks. But everything is in the study phase for now.
However, the traffic officer said they were unaware of traffic light updates, installations and programmes. “We are not part of the traffic light system formulation and adaptation. We are there only for the implementation. They never discuss with us any updates and programmes and never ask for any technical support,” he said.
According to the traffic division, the number of vehicles exceeds 1.1 million in Kathmandu which makes traffic management a difficult task.