Anup Ojha, The Himalayan Times, July 10, 2019
The toll-free line that started in 2006 receives complaints relating to daily inconveniences faced by people in public transportation.
On Tuesday morning at 11:45, Saroj Tamang, 26, a Bachelor level student from Ratna Rajya Campus, was waiting for a bus in Nepaltar.
Tamang, who is blind, raised his right hand to hail a public bus to go to Ratnapark. He is a regular on this route. Every day he goes to Ratnapark to sell incense sticks by the roadside. Like every other day, a bus stopped heeding to his call, but when the conductor saw Tamang using a cane as a crutch, he whistled to the driver telling him to keep moving. The bus left without Tamang on board.
Embarrassed and hurt with this discrimination, Tamang noted down the bus number (by inquiring from pedestrians standing nearby) and immediately dialled 103 from his cellphone. Tamang passed on the bus number (5084) to the police personnel on the other end of the line and within an hour, personnel from the Traffic Police Unit in Durbar Marg took control of the bus and issued a ticket of Rs 500 to the driver for not stopping for a disabled person.
“I was surprised to get a call back from the traffic office informing me that the bus driver had been fined,” Tamang told the Post.
Rajkumar Mandal, 35, was also pleasantly surprised to see the traffic police take immediate action on his complaint through the hotline against a public bus that had overcharged him.
“I never thought the bus driver would be punished. I was travelling on Ba2Kha 3774 from Balkumari to the transportation office in Ekantakuna. The fare was Rs 15 but the conductor charged double the amount. I immediately dialled 103 and lodged a complaint. A traffic police soon called me back and told me that the driver was fined Rs 1,000 for overcharging passengers,” said Mandal.
The hotline 103 was introduced in 2006 to the public for them to register complaints relating to daily inconveniences faced in public transportation.
The Metropolitan Traffic Police Division office said that on average the hotline responds to 2,000 to 3,000 phone calls every day. Most of the calls are inquiries from the public about traffic jams in Kathmandu Valley and the highways, and complaints against public vehicles. Initially, the division only operated one phone line but given the increase in the number of phone calls, it now operates seven phones manned by four police constables round the clock, says the office. Chandra KC, one of the police constables who handles the calls, said that once a call comes through, they immediately register it and inform the concerned traffic police unit. “Our work is to respond to customers’ inquiry, and if it’s a complaint, we forward it to the concerned police beat. We also follow up on the case,” said KC. According to KC, the calls reach up to 7,000 on days of general strikes, and that the hotline number gets busier when the city hosts processions of domestic and foreign dignitaries. People call the hotline number to learn about the routes that are open to the public on those days.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Krishna Datta Bhatta, who is also in charge of the hotline department, said that most of the inquiries they receive are regarding traffic jams. “Out of the thousands of calls we receive, on average 30 calls are complaints against taxis overcharging; around 15 about public vehicles overcharging and not allowing student card’s discount; around 15 calls are for hit and run cases, and around 15 calls reporting road accidents,” said Bhatta.