Hours after 19 people were killed in yet another bus plunge in Dhading on Tuesday, former Prime Minister and UML Chair K P Oli sought time from the Speaker to deliver an hour-long speech in Parliament. He spent most of it to slam Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s foreign policy, but did not utter a word about the Dhading accident.
Dhan Bahadur Ghale, an MP elected from the Constituency of Dhading where the disaster took place, was listening to Oli. But neither did he think it necessary to bring up the issue of road fatalities before Parliament, even though so many people from his own constituency had just been killed.
Again, most of the people who perished in the Dhading crash were earthquake survivors. They were returning to their village of Marpak after receiving the first instalment of reconstruction grants of Rs 50,000 from the district headquarters of Dhadingbesi. But that tragedy did not move Ghale, the opposition or the government. The dirt track connecting Dhading besi with Marpak was built a decade ago, and had been damaged by landslides in several places after Monday night’s rains. In addition, the bus was overloaded.
It had the all-too-familiar list of causes: Poor road condition, overloading and violation of traffic rules. The syndicate of transport entrepreneurs that prevents the administration from taking action. Political parties did not raise this issue adequately in the House, not even Ghale who is from the opposition bench.
A few weeks ago, 27 people were killed when an obsolete and overcrowded bus fell off the edge of a dirt road in Kavre. Then, 22 people were killed when a bus driven by an exhausted driver plunged into the Trisuli, and this week, former Home Minister Madhav Ghimire’s car fell into the same river. He has not yet been found. (See page 4)
Government promptly forms a probe panel after every plane crash, but there is no inquiry into bus accidents. And the opposition party is also indifferent because everyone is only obsessed with power games in Kathmandu.