Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Pillion riders not wearing helmets are now allowed to use pre-paid mobiles


This country is changing so fast, things are in such a state of flux, there is so much uncertainty about what is around the bend that one can't really blame the ordinary man on the street for feeling a little confused with Kathmandu's rapidly changing traffic rules.

What's illegal today (for example making an unauthorised U-turn at Darbar Marg) could suddenly and without warning be legal between midnight and two in the morning, but very well revert back to being illegal again from the crack of dawn onwards. That is why as responsible drivers we all need to be alert about the rules and regulations and keep abreast of changes so we know when we can break them without getting caught. And we in FM radio feel it is part of our public service mandate to issue bulletins every 15 minutes to apprise law-abiding drivers of the latest changes in traffic rules. So, to drive everyone around the bend, here is the 9.45 PM Traffic Rules Bulletin for Thursday:

1. After officially banning motorcycle pillion riders on Friday morning, and then immediately unbanning the ban, followed by a weekend during which it was both banned and not banned, traffic police has finally decided to end the confusion once and for all to categorically state that pillion riding is in fact not banned but if you are caught riding tandem on a motorbike you are liable to have your basic human rights violated on the spot. The head of traffic police has been quoted as saying that it is just a "humble suggestion" that citizens not ride two to a bike, just like all the other traffic rules in this country such as not driving on the right (wrong) side of the road. So, to recap: two people on a bike is not allowed but three, four or even five to a bike is ok.

2. Compared to pillion riding, the rules on helmets are simpler and much more straight forward but we'll repeat them here anyway just so there is no ambiguity. A motorcyclist is allowed to wear a helmet provided it has a clear visor but if he has a shaded visor he isn't allowed to wear a helmet even if his pillion passenger is wearing a helmet with or without a visor and regardless of whether it is shaded or clear. Everything understood so far? Right. To continue: however, if the pillion passenger who shouldn't be there in the first place isn't wearing a helmet with a visor and the child sitting on the fuel tank is wearing a fancy hat and pink plastic sunglasses, then the driver is allowed to wear a visor provided he's not wearing a helmet. Terrorists are not allowed to ride pillion and, but if they insist, should refrain from wearing helmets so they can be easily recognised at checkpoints. People wearing turbans, heads of state and government and security personnel can do whatever they like.

3. The municipality is building another half-dozen overhead bridges in Kathmandu and Patan. These are actually billboard stands and not for pedestrians who should continue to try their level best to cross the road at streetlevel.

4. The Pulchok Road is closed for vacuuming at rush hour every day in order to cause maximum inconvenience to commuters. Says a Roads Department engineer: "If we did the resealing at night no one would know we were doing our job repairing roads."

5. And now the question you've all been meaning to ask: What is the status of the ban on using mobiles while driving? Answer: Motorcyclists can use prepaid mobiles at any time but pillion riders can only receive free postpaid mobile calls for pro-monarchy phone calls provided they are wearing seatbelts and no helmets with shaded visors.

Fine print: These traffic rules can change without warning, so stay tuned for the next bulletin in 15 minutes.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)