Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Streetwise in Kathmandu


Regular readers of this column will have discerned by now that every year or so they are required by law to mandatorily read through yet another article about Kathmandu's traffic situation.

At the rate this metropolis is expanding the rules of the road need to keep pace. What was perfectly acceptable road behaviour last year (turning turtle at Koteswor intersection) could be illegal this year. So, here is our biannual traffic rules update:

. A valid or invalid national driving license is required. Driver needs to cut out this article and present it as proof he/she has read it before getting a compulsory endorsement stamp from the Department of Potholes and/or Cavities of His Majesty's Government.

. Expats can use a valid national driving license from the following countries where driving conditions are similar to Nepal: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Guatemala and Mali. Expats from all other countries need to sit for a written exam and a driving test which includes trick situations such as being required to parallel park in uparallelled situations.

. Anyone who fails to honk incessantly while driving could have his/her license revoked. Honking is a necessary part of alerting road-users outside hospitals and schools about your presence and failure to toot your own trumpet could lead to untoward mishaps.

. Alert: The rule on the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving has been changed yet again. It is once more legal to speak on the phone while driving, but only if it is a Nepal Telecom set since everyone knows it doesn't work anyway.

. Taxis are henceforth allowed to park, but only at road junctions and only if they block all vehicles going in and out of a sidestreet. A taxi that parks on the kerbside leaving ample room for through traffic is liable to prosecution for Waste of Public Space. Buses, being public transport, can load and unload passengers anywhere including in the middle of the road provided they are blocking traffic for a distance of not less than two kilometers in both directions while doing so.

. In case an outrider appears with sirens blaring indicating the imminent arrival of a VVVVIP in a tearing hurry, drivers are allowed to climb into nearby traffic islands to get out of the way. Failure to do so means you may be sideswiped by a speeding Harley Davidson.

. Since pedestrians continue to ignore bridges to cross the city's major thoroughfares, the bridges have now been opened to all-terrain motorbikes and 4-WDs wishing to extricate themselves from traffic jams by making legal overhead U-turns.

. The rule on driving on the left side of the road has been revoked by royal ordinance. All full-drawn and broken centerlines have been erased so drivers can now drive on whichever side of the road they fancy, exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to the Freedom of Movement recently upheld on the road outside the Supreme Court Building.

. Some roads have concrete barriers along the centerlines. These are for motorcyclists to practice for the giant slalom.

. Armoured Pesonnel Carriers, Anti-aircraft Batteries and Main Battle Tanks on their way to the Shivaratri Parade at rush hour have right of way and anyone who has a problem with that is liable to be booked under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (Control and Punishment) Act and used for target practice.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)