For the last two years since the Royal Nepal Army was mobilised along the highway for security checks, bus travelers have been going through their worst experiences. The night bus travel to Kakribitta, which is a 12 hour journey, now takes about 24 hours. Traveling from any other city to Kathmandu is a nightmare. Tight security checks on each bus have proven to be a never-ending harassment. The heavy traffic jam along the Mahendra and Prithibi highway lasts for hours. It gets much worse at Nagdhunga while entering Kathmandu. Even the ambulances carrying patients are stuck in road jams. The army was first stationed on the main highways after the state of emergency was imposed two years back. Since then, the army has been adding check points one after another and it's the ordinary civilians who have to pay the price for national security. The bus to Kakribitta has to pass through at least 20 security check points. Buses from Mahendranagar to Chitwan have to stop at 19 places. For passengers, the security checks have been the ultimate harassment, they are enraged but don't dare complain. The check points haven't improved security, in fact it is spreading anger against the security forces. "What have they really achieved until now? Have they found anything they are looking for?" asks one irate passenger who had to get out of the bus at every check point. Even on a short journey from Narayanghat to Kathmandu, buses have to stop in at least four places. The worst is for the buses going west from Jhapa. Passengers have to walk for about half an hour in Pathalaiya, where the army believes the Maoists smuggle arms from India.
The security checks have adversely affected transporters who have seen a sharp decline in passengers, especially on night buses. In normal times two years ago, over 400 buses packed with passengers used to ply on the highways out of Kathmandu every night. Now more than half of those buses travel only in the mornings and afternoons and they are half-empty. Most buses worry about reaching the destination before curfew time. Many buses that start in the evening from Kathmandu have to halt near the forest areas while travelling to Chitwan and Hetauda where they fall prey to dacoits.
The army's spokesman Deepak Gurung says: "The security force has to do its job. We have to make the passengers walk during the checks as we can't recognise Maoists from their faces."