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Big leap for Sajha

Sunday, November 27th, 2016
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Pics: Bikram Rai

Pics: Bikram Rai

Like any other day Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal reached Singha Darbar at 10AM, only on Sunday morning he rode a Sajha bus from Pulchok to get there.

He was on one of the 30 brand new Sajha buses that he inaugurated. Accompanied by other government officials, the PM made the short journey after a brief ceremony held in Sajha Yatayat’s base station in Pulchok.

“In the context of traffic and vehicle management there have been considerable improvements following stricter regulations but we should not be satisfied with just this much. Sajha’s work and future plans are commendable but we still have a long way to cover,” said Dahal.

Keeping in mind Kathmandu’s worsening traffic congestion and air pollution, the buses have been launched in tandem with the slogan Chaudai sadak ma thulo bus (Big buses on wide streets). Aiming to steer commuters away from using private vehicles, the buses will be plying on trunk routes in Kathmandu Valley with increased frequency.

With more than 50 years of history, Sajha’s efforts to introduce a safer, efficient public transportation are not new. Established in the early 1960s, the buses popularity reflected in songs like Sajha bus ma jo pani chadha chha by comedian Hari Bansha Acharya. However, the cooperative fell victim to political interference and institutional problems and had to shut down.

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“Public transportation should have the same priority as public health and public education. There needs to be political leadership in this sector as well,” said Kanak Mani Dixit, Chairman of Sajha Yatayat.

It was with this objective that Sajha Yatayat revived its services in 2013 with 16 buses amidst much fanfare. The 30 new buses launched on Sunday morning come in a 2 x 2 seating arrangement with PVC modular seats offering more space to commuters. The buses are also disabled friendly, and the buses have been modified with a mechanical ramp for wheelchairs.

However, Dixit still believes correct infrastructure like footpaths, which needs to be raised to 1.5 feet to enable smoother commuting for the disabled, need to be in place.

Believing that there needs to be connectivity not only within Kathmandu but between other district and the capital, the KMC plans to invest Rs 50 million additionally in Sajha.

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“The KMC in keeping with the concept of a smart city wants to further smart traffic management as well,” said Rudra Singh Tamang of KMC. The government also plans to introduce a line of state run buses in the near future.

Smriti Basnet

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