Notes from Nepal: Follow the rules

It is one of my favorite sight in Kathmandu these days.

No, it is not the high hills that surround the city, the sight of temples or the glimpse of the delicious-looking momos (dumplings) at every other block of the metropolis.

It is the people kept in detention in the middle of the street for jaywalking.

As I walk my way to work, every day I see one or two people who are in the middle of a triangular trap set up by the Metropolitan Traffic Division in Sundhara. It is for people who do not follow the road rules, who jaywalk.

A couple of days ago, I stopped for about five minutes just to observe. It was amusing as the traffic police officers tried getting two young men inside the triangular zone. The men, in the other hand, seemed angry and were arguing with two officers at a junction in central Kathmandu.

But the officers managed to get them inside the triangular trap. One of the officers then tried explaining the men about road rules, but they were not willing to listen but still arguing and angry.

Metropolitan Traffic Division introduced this new rule early this year. Jaywalkers not using the overhead street bridges in major areas in central Kathmandu will be fined Rs 50. Those who cannot or do not want to pay are kept in two-hour detention.

It is good to see that the traffic police are trying their best to enforce rules and regulations. They are teaching people about road safety and road rules.

But as grown ups and civilized citizens, I think it becomes the responsibility of us to follow the rules without having someone tell us to do that or making us feel humiliated for breaking the rule of law.

I bet standing amid the triangular trap is a shame. I think it is embarrassing to stand there for five to ten minutes as passers-by  turn their heads and smile, or even laugh.

Pedestrians often overlook the dangers of crossing the roads and walking in the middle of the streets when the overhead bridges are right above them. It is also obviously annoying for drivers who already have to deal with cows and dogs on the streets, forget about people.

The traffic police’s role is commendable here. But it is sad that people still have to be taught how to cross roads when there are so many other things to think about. In a way, though the traffic is trying to enforce the rules, it is a waste of their time and energy to educate the already educated on how to cross roads and follow the rules.

It is high time that we all follow the rules. Sometimes you do feel to take a short cut and not use the overhead bridge. But if everyone feels the same way sometime or the other, then the rules will always go overlooked.

So lets start from the roads and take it to another level.

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