Anup Ojha, The Kathmandu Post, 28 Oct 2017
After declaring Thamel vehicle-free zone, authorities are now planning to make the Capital’s core heritage sites, including Chhetrapati, Indrachowk and Kathmandu Durbar Square, more visitor-friendly.
To this end, six ward chairpersons of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), representatives of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) and civil society leaders took a tour of the proposed sites on Friday.
The tour’s objective was to see the general state of things before we went to the drawing board to develop concepts, said MTPD chief Sarbendra Khanal.
“Since no-vehicle regulation is not going to work 100 per cent in these places unlike Thamel, we are considering limiting the traffic numbers by introducing one-way traffic system. We have to consult with the locals and other stakeholders before taking the decision,” he added.
The six proposed wards of the KMC are home to several historic temples, stupas, monuments and palace buildings. They are connected by narrow streets and alleyways between rows of compact houses, modern and traditional, with majority of their ground-floors rented out for shops. The streets are mostly crowded by pedestrians, traffic, outdoors shop displays and street vendors.
Nil kaji Shrestha, chairperson of KMC-25, said their plan was make the areas pedestrian-friendly by limiting traffic and freeing spaces occupied by shops and street vendors. “We have several historic sites in these six wards. So our effort is aimed at making them free of noise and air pollution and present them the way it should be,” he said.
Bishnu Prasad Joshi, chief of KMC City Police, said they wanted to offer hassle-free experience to the people visiting the sites, with fewer traffic, open walking space and less pollution.
“The Kathmandu Metropolitan City has already instructed local shop owners not to crowd the streets with their products displayed outside,” he said, adding that they will soon come up with a concrete decision after holding meeting with local representatives and other stakeholders.
Kishore Thapa, urban planning expert and former government secretary for Ministry of Urban Development, said the traffic problem in the areas can be managed by introducing vehicle pass system for locals and opening a parking space for visitors. ‘
He also suggested retaining some space expressly for street vendors.
“Opening a dedicated space for street vendors will add charm to the place,” he said. “If the authorities could only tackle the problem of traffic, there will be a lot of space for pedestrians as well as vendors.”