Is Kathmandu a livable city?by Manoj
Posted on December 1, 2017 Social Issues
Where is Kathmandu?
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Geographically, Kathmandu lies in the northwestern part of the Kathmandu Valley (Kathmandu Valley is the agglomeration of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts) to the north of the Bagmati River. It covers an area of 50.7 km2 (19.6 sq mi). The average elevation is 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) above sea level.
Map of Kathmandu
I believe, Kathmandu is a perfect example of living art, history and culture and one can relive the monuments that have been existing from centuries ago. Even though devastating Earthquake in 2015 hit real hard, the life is already normal here. Except few of the culturally and historically significant temples including Durbar squares, everything is alright! And those temples and monuments suffering the destruction are in reconstruction process.
According to the Department of Immigration, Kathmandu welcomed a total of 460,304 foreign tourists in the first six months of 2017 i.e. until June, 2017. The statistics show that the arrival of tourist is way more than what was in 2016 (more than 100 thousand arrivals) in the first halves of both years. And the total figure is expected to hit more than one million by the end of this year.
Since Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal, it is obviously well equipped with infrastructures and services. Kathmandu is the fastest growing city in Nepal. It has witnessed what most parts of the country is yet to observe. Rapid growth of industries, development, economy and what not; but is it really a livable city? Here’s my analysis;
1. Safety & Security
At present, the security of Kathmandu has undoubtedly become stronger than before. The place where I reside used to be renowned for theft, robbery and murder cases around 10 years ago. People used to have hard time walking alone or in group in the streets during evening. But now, the situation has changed; it’s safe to walk alone and the incidents of theft, robbery and murder are rarely heard of. However, I hear the stories of pickpockets quite often. And once, while I was returning back to my home at around 8 PM, my phone was nearly robbed by two youngsters. Luckily I was able to escape it.
And suddenly, in the last few days the rumors of bombings in K-town is at its peak. This is certainly because of upcoming second phase House of representatives and provincial Assembly election to be held on 7th December, 2017. Despite the reasons, the security system is obviously challenged.
2. Climatic conditions
Education in Kathmandu is one of the most important reasons why this city attracts thousands of people each year. After the successful completion of SEE (Previously known as SLC), Kathmandu pulls thousands of youngsters in the pursuit of quality higher education. And without any secondary thought, Kathmandu possesses the best education in Nepal. Like many of you, the story is similar; the reason why I was brought and grown up in this city for educational purpose. There are thousands of schools, colleges, institutes and consultancies in Kathmandu. One need not walk for hours to get to schools, buy books, copies and other necessary stationery materials here.
5. Transportation in Kathmandu
Transportation system in Kathmandu is better than many other cities of Nepal. However, it’s problematic at times. On a daily basis, thousands of commuters have to face problem while traveling be it through private vehicles or by public transport. One has to suffer even more while traveling on a public bus. Most of the times, the vehicles are overcrowded, not well-maintained, lack cleanliness and don’t have proper timings of departures and arrivals. Over-speeding is another issue when it comes to a discussion about transportation in Kathmandu. Thousands of road accidents occur annually. Part of the reason is because of road situation and majority of blame goes to the drivers. The wide Kalanki- Koteshwor road section is under-construction and as per the planning is believed to end by the month of July. The drivers have become more free-er than before and has reported increasing road accidents there. Kalanki- Koteshwor stretch has four lanes and as per the experts lack considerable number of dividers, zebra crossing, traffic lights and overhead bridges. But recently, traffic police have started monitoring the vehicles and during the office hours, vehicles are supposed to register their vehicle number and timings as well. This action is believed to control the increasing number of road accidents. Let’s wish for the best! 🙂
Tragically this city has f****d up road system. The roads are way too muddy during the monsoon and rest of the year; dusty. In the last 10 years, the number of vehicles is supposed to have increased by three times. Traffic jam is prevailing day by day. Once, I was travelling in a public vehicle from my office located in Pulchowk to Jorpati and it took me three and half hours! Holy S**t!!! 3.5 hours just to travel that small distance…. Most of the times, I ride bicycle these days and so I am less victimized by this problem of traffic jam. But it’s not the same case for thousands of people who need to travel frequently. Guess the problem they’re facing each and every f***ing day! But again the problem for cyclists like me is we don’t have cycling trails. And what infuriates me more is when the govt. officials travel (which is called sawari), hundreds of vehicles are made to wait for hours and their emergencies are totally ignored. Ironic it is when Ambulances are not given preferences and kept to wait during the traffic jams! What a tragic situation!
Problems don’t end here! Even though No-Horn System has been implemented from the Nepali New year- 2074; a lot of drivers don’t care at all and keep honking the horns unnecessarily. Even during the long traffic jam, people are seen honking horns for no reason. Does the traffic jam end just because he blows horn? It doesn’t. Sometimes I think, these drivers blow horn just to get attention! After all, we all need to be careful about what we do!
The only international airport of Nepal (Tribhuvan International Airport) is situated in Kathmandu. That’s also the reason why Kathmandu has to accommodate tourists for sometime even though they don’t want to :D.
On the brighter side, Govt. has started planning for the construction of Kathmandu Outer Ring road. The ring road will be 71.93 KM long with 8 lanes. And significantly, the cycle lane, green path and disabled friendly paths on both sides of the road will be constructed. Similarly, Sajha Yatayat has begun disabled friendly bus service in Kathmandu starting from March, 2018. Sajha Yatayat has semi-low-floor which runs from Lagankhel- Gangalal hospital through Jawalakhel, Tripureshwor, Bir Hospital, Lainchour, Lazimpat, Kanti Bal Hospital and Chakrapaath. This bus service has also arranged separate seats for children and the total capacity is 41 seats. At the same time, Sajha Transport has planned to add some 24 buses for the very purpose including an electric one. Mayur yatayat is also in operation recently and is providing quality transportation services to the commuters. Public transportation facilities from Sajha Yatayat and Mayur Yatayat have been noteworthy because of its efficiency and cost-effectiveness as well. In addition, syndicate system has been uplifted now. Great steps! Still long way to go 🙂
6. Drinking Water
Even though almost all of the houses in Kathmandu are well equipped with taps; being able to fetch water is a different story. Back home in Sindhupalchowk; we have two private water sources and we share them with villagers. Here, we’re compelled to buy bottled water in the span of every 2-3 days.What an irony!!!
7. Loadshedding (Electricity)
8. Entertainment and recreation
9. Pollution & Waste Management
With the rapid in-flow of population in Kathmandu, pollution is ascending pretty quickly. In Hinduism, the rivers are considered to be holy and are worshiped as well. Regardless of the beliefs there’s no stopping; the rivers are at their worsts. Bagmati despite being the most important river for Hindu people is struggling to find its own beauty! Others include Bishnumati, Dhobi khola, Tukucha Khola, Manohora Khola etc. Similarly, noise pollution because of continuous honking of vehicles.
A research conducted by the university of the neurons in my brain found out that a person consumes around 20-25 KG of dust during his lifetime. And the consumption is supposedly increased who were born after 20th century. 😀
I was having a conversation with one of my friends’ Saurav KC. When I asked him his opinion about the town, his reply astonished me. Here’s his reply;
“Kathmandu for me is a valley of dreams. Dreams in the sense that people are the richest and the poorest as well.But nobody has seen that dream city until now; maybe yet to be discovered. Businessmen sell poverty here!!!”