Vehicle ban in Nepal’s Tourism Hub, Thamel gains momentum, turns to “walking street”

24th Oct, 2017 | Tourism Mail Crew

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s tourism hub, Thamel has finally been a walk-only zone, with authorities enforcing a ‘no-vehicle’ rule in the major tourist hub of Kathmandu starting on Sunday.

Long time in the making, the plan of restricting unwanted vehicles in the tourist district had received positive response from most quarters. The initiative of tourism entrepreneurs, hoteliers, civil society, local residents and traffic police is aimed at easing pedestrian movement in the area where overcrowding of narrow streets had raised concerns for safety of visitors including tourists.

The move to limit vehicular movement in the area started at 12pm, according to Kathmandu Metropolitan City Ward 26 Chairman Khem Tiwari. “Though belated, we are able to successfully carry on with our plan to regulate vehicular movement in the Thamel area,” he said.

The committee formed to limit traffic flow in the area had proposed freeing Chaksibari Marga and Paryatan Marga of vehicles. According to the plan implemented on the first day, no vehicles were allowed in these inner streets. Tridevi Marga, the road section in front of the Kaiser Mahal, is open only as an entry point for Thamel while other ways leading into Thamel are being blocked.

Other streets like Saat Ghumti, Sorhakhutte Height, Kshetrapati, Bhagwati Bahal, Amrit Marga and Thahity have been declared as exit ways from Thamel.

As expected, some entrepreneurs doing business in the area and homeowners were worried about potential problems in supply of daily essentials and goods for business, said Tiwari.

Emergency vehicles such as ambulances and water tankers will be allowed in the prohibited area. The committee is devising ways to distribute entry passes to locals living along the two streets.

“We are planning to distribute passes to locals and those running their businesses on the streets. However, we will allot separate time especially at night for the entry of vehicles carrying business supplies,” said Tiwari.

Stakeholders said the initial hassles in implementing the ambitious plan of making Thamel only for walkers would eventually pay off by attracting more tourists. Officials hope to improve on the pilot project with more feedback.

Metropolitan Traffic Police Division DIG Sarbendra Khanal hopes the plan will go smoothly in the coming days.

“We are restricting vehicular movement only on the congested streets of Thamel. It is in favour of everyone connected with Thamel area and will benefit everyone in future,” said Khanal.