September 27: This year, around 2.2 million people are expected to leave the Kathmandu valley to celebrate Dashain in their hometowns and villages. Transport entrepreneurs have estimated that around 500,000 more passengers may leave the valley before Dashain this year as compared to last year due to the election of the House of Representatives and the Provincial Assembly after the Dashain and Tihar festivals.
In previous years, the number of passengers leaving Kathmandu Valley during Dashain used to be around 1.7 million. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, about 1 million passengers were evacuated during last Dashain. Bijay Swar, the president of the Federation of Nepalese National Transport Entrepreneurs, informed that nearly 200,000 passengers have already left the valley since September 17.
According to him, since most of the schools and colleges get closed after Ghatasthapana, the first day of Dashain festival, the number of passengers leaving the valley increases after the festival officially kicks off.
The maximum number passengers leave the valley on the occasion of Fulpati and Astami which fall on the sixth to eighth day of the festival.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Rajendra Prasad Bhatta, Information Officer of Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office, the number of passengers leaving the valley is increasing each day.
“Currently, more than 50,000 passengers are leaving the valley from Nagadhunga, Koteshwar, Pharping and other check points every day,” said SSP Bhatta.
The traffic police has set up passenger help desks at 14 locations in the valley for the safety and convenience of the passengers.
The federation said that the vehicles entering and exiting the valley are facing problems due to roads damaged by monsoon-induced disasters in various places.
“It takes up to 10 hours to travel the 121 kilometers of Butwal-Narayangadh road section. When the road is good, this distance can be covered in 4 hours. Due to the damaged road, passengers who booked tickets in advance have had to suffer because the vehicles did not arrive in Kathmandu on time,” said Swar. He added that it takes more than 5 hours to travel 63 kilometers due to the bad condition of the road from Abukhaireni to Kotre.
Public transport route permit opened
The government has opened route permits for public transport targeting passengers who leave the valley to return back to their villages to celebrate Dashain and Tihar festivals. Route permits have been opened from Ghatastapana till Kojagrat Purnima or the full moon day.
Once the route permit is opened, the vehicles will be able to run on any route without interruption. The Department of Transport Management has decided to ban vehicles carrying heavy goods on the route from Narayangadh to Kathmandu from October 1 to 8. The department also informed that this decision has been taken because the passenger buses running on the road may face difficulty due to the cargo vehicles.