When Anil Thapa, 24, of Sitapaila stopped at a traffic light at Thapathali, a traffic policeman asked for his licence. She informed him that he had been caught on camera violating the lane discipline a few minutes previously. He paid a Rs 200 in fine and attended an hour-long lecture at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Office at Baggikhana.
Accompanying him in the class was Rahul Sharma, 25, of Bhaktapur. His experience was a little different. He said he was penalised wrongfully for lane violation. “All I did was leave way for the other motorcycle. But the police handed me a ticket saying that it was already recorded on the camera,” said Sharma.
As of 16 February, 569 people have been caught on CCTV cameras violating traffic rules. The police first installed the CCTV cameras at key intersections in October 2013. Since last October, violators were made to attend mandatory orientation classes. Every day the police has three sessions for drunk driving and five for lane violations. According to MTPD, 23,146 drivers have paid Rs 4.7 million in fines for lane violations alone.
SSP Narayan Khadka says more than 200 CCTV cameras have been installed and are monitored in Baggikhana. The cameras have not only helped in identifying violators of different traffic rules but also in catching criminals.
Govinda Bhattarai of Nepal Automobiles Association says that after curbing drinking and driving, the use of CCTV is another welcome step taken by the MTPD. “Along with monitoring and regulating traffic, the laws should be rectified and a separate lane should be made for pedestrians and cycles,” he added.
However, the move is not without criticism. Manoj Maharjan, 36, had to wait for five hours to attend an hour long orientation class and said he was treated like a criminal. Bikash Thapaliya, 27, who was penalised for lane violation in Thamel, said: “They don’t treat us properly. And at times it’s not our fault. I was caught for violating lane discipline but there was no street centre line.”
In a move to ease the traffic management in the capital, the police is planning to introduce Intelligent Traffic System (ITS), which will not only be able to manage traffic lights directly but also receive the information of any traffic rule violations. The system will initially be implemented in Lajimpat-Tripureswor, Darbar Marg-Bhadrakali and Jai Nepal-Thapathali routes.