By PR Pradhan
President Bidhya Bhandari left for New York Friday evening. Perhaps, for the first time during such official visits, only one side road was closed for the President’s vehicle and commoners’ vehicles were running in other side of the road from President’s residence to the Tribhuvan International Airport. No information, whether the sky was on hold or not during the take off of the aircraft that Bhandari was onboard.
Anyway, it is a good news that only one side road was closed. We suggest, during such visits, one side road should be closed not more than 8 minutes.
Last week when vehicles in Lainchour were halt for more than 40 minutes to clear road for President Bidhya Bhandari, who was the chief guest at the reception organised by the Nepal Army on the occasion of the Nepal Army Day, the agitated drivers protested the traffic police by continuously blowing their vehicle horns. When the traffic police didn’t respond drivers’ protest, then all the vehicles revolted against the traffic police by moving their vehicles in the restricted road. The clip of violating the traffic order became viral in social networks. More serious to note, comments were written denouncing the act of the President and applauding those who violated the traffic order.
The other day, Bhandari, President of a secular nation, visited famous Hindu shrine Manakamana Temple in Gorkha district. News reports were appeared that a group of elderly citizens was unable to perform pooja even after waiting for more than two hours in the temple premises. The temple was closed for general public for more than two hours until President Bhandari performed pooja there.
Bhandari also went to Pokhara and inaugurated an elevator constructed at the Bindhabashini Temple in the heart of Pokhara city. There also, roads were closed for President Bhandari’s vehicles. Vehicles were stuck in road for hours and drivers protested the traffic police.
Every time, people and specially Kathmanduites are suffering from traffic jam during the visits of such VVIPs and during the visit of friendly countries’ heads of the nations and governments.
An unofficial curfew was declared when Indian PM Narendra Modi visited Kathmandu for the first time. Funny to note, the government had announced national holiday on the day of his arrival. Since then, the Kathmanduties have started to say that they could get relief if such dignitaries would not visit Kathmandu.
Kathmandu’s traffic was vulnerable during the SAARC summit and BIMSTEC summit here. The same was repeated during the Asia Pacific Summit in Kathmandu organised by an INGO named Universal Peace Federation.
The Kathmandu roads have become very congested due to increasing import of vehicles but the government has not be able to construct alternate roads on the basis of increased number of vehicles. On the other, in the name of escorting VVIPs and VIPs’ vehicles, roads will remain closed for hours and vehicle drivers will have to remain stuck in roads.
We have only one international airport that too with a single runway. During the VVIP flights, the sky will remain closed for minimum half an hour. Is this justifiable, it is another question.
In New York, during the UN General Assembly, heads of states and governments are frequently moving in roads but roads are never closed. In Washington or Beijing, almost in a daily basis heads of governments and states are visiting but roads are not closed. Our VVIPs want to close the road during their travel just to demonstrate that they are big personalities. Roads were kept closed due to the security reason during the travel of the VVIPs and VIPs but is there any security threat for the ceremonial President of Nepal? If not, why not they give an instruction to the security for not giving problem to the commoners. If the security force is unable to manage VVIP and VIP traffics, the government should send them for training to other countries where VVIP and VIP’s vehicles are operated in a fast and secured way without giving trouble to the commoners.
The other concern expressed by the commoners is that why the President of a secular nation is visiting Hindu shrines by blocking commoners for hours! In London, the prime minister is found using metro rail while going to the office. Some leaders are found riding bicycle and even ceremonial kings in the European countries are found walking in streets as commoners. In Thailand, the institute of monarchy is highly regarded and respected. The late king Bhumibol was always found visiting villages and helping farmers by providing them seeds of agro products and assisting fund to construct cannels. Our ceremonial President and other VIPs could also learn lesson by reading King Bhumibol’s biography and instead of sitting inside the President’s residence, the President could visit different villages and help local poor people for betterment of their livelihood.
Questions have been created when the President inaugurated an elevator at Bindabashani Temple in Pokhara. Instead of giving opportunity to the local and province leaders, why the President wished to inaugurate the elevator! Some have remarked that by maintaining the prestige of the post, the President should inaugurate only those projects of national pride.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli not only inaugurated but also went to Singhadurwar from Pulchowk by riding the electricity operating bus. The bus, instead of operating service in Kathmandu roads, has been dumped in a garage. Oli, executive chief of the government has not been able to run the bus in the Kathmandu road. According to reports, there was dispute between the government and the bus company on the issue of country of origin. Even after the bus suppliers have submitted the evidence that the bus was built in China, the government is unable to take decision. Some government officials, who seem to be working in the interests of some foreign powers, are creating hurdles to irritate Chinese businessmen. This is aimed at discouraging Nepal-China partnership as well as friendship. But PM Oli is helpless. If he is unable to run the electric bus in Kathmandu roads, why he inaugurated the bus service with big fanfare!
Our VVIPs and VIPs must listen to the commoners and respect them if they have not forgotten their past life as commoners.