There are far too many problems with Kathmandu and we haven’t even started solving them. We need a problem-solving leadership
Kathmandu isn’t the same anymore. Not that Kathmandu needs to be like Singapore, Sydney or Geneva. The residents of Kathmandu want only the most basic things, and they yearn for the leadership that is capable of providing them those basic things. They know that the city cannot develop until there is balance between the leaders’ promises and the fulfillment of administrative duties by officials. Now Kathmandu has a chance to bring that balance, and to spread energy throughout the country.
Kathmandu doesn’t need to be made into a “smart city”, but instead into a “heritage city”, characterized by rich civilization and originality. Kathmandu used to be this city. But today, we are losing our way. In line with the concept of “Greater Kathmandu, Better Kathmandu”, it has become essential to harmonize all levels of government in the capital to establish it as a genuine cultural city. Only then will Kathmandu’s resources be fully utilized for its development. The constituents of historic cities like Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan, Kirtipur, and Sankhu must collaborate for their all-round conservation, promotion, and development of economic social infrastructure. Our policy and leadership should be public-oriented. To make Kathmandu a “Friendly City”, we need a leadership that understands development. To breathe life into Kathmandu, we need to think primarily from five angles.
The administration of Kathmandu needs to be engrossed in the service of the general public. Thus the first condition for prosperous Kathmandu is a comprehensive restructuring in its administration. The common citizen does not get proper, necessary service from the current bureaucracy. To make the metropolis “Comfortable, Accessible, Always”, drastic improvement is needed in the current bureaucracy. Therefore, the system of ‘golden handshake’, or voluntary retirement, should be arranged for current bureaucrats. The city needs to be renewed with energy again by providing respectable compensation to the employees who have worked for 20 years, and by bringing in educated new generation as staff for the management of Kathmandu in their stead. The residents of Kathmandu will not feel change until simple problems they face, while paying bills in the ward or city offices for instance, are solved.
If only a free mobile application, for example “Government Services”, could be made available for simple governmental processes such as paying bills, applying for small approvals, or renewal processes, and visits to government offices warranted only on more important issues, the physical hassle of having to travel great distances for those simple tasks can be avoided. The same application could be used to call for the police, ambulance, or fire brigade, all with a single click. Only then can Kathmandu be labeled as an “Inconvenience-free City” and the residents slowly learn to trust its leadership.
Kathmandu is the heart of the Newar community; it is diversity-rich, and it is the country’s cultural center. It is thus vital to protect the current heritage of Kathmandu. To save the originality of the symbols of heritage damaged by recent earthquakes, they need to be either retrofitted or rebuilt. It is necessary to protect and rebuild our old stone water taps. It is also necessary to provide new generation with plenty of knowledge about our culture. They can protect it only if they understand our history and heritage. For this, why shouldn’t we make an app that includes ‘wikis’ for each neighborhood explaining its history and importance? Now, we must convey our information the only way the current generation can understand: by use of the internet, wikis and mobile applications.
In order to develop Kathmandu as a heritage city, people could be encouraged to celebrate their origin by building a temple or a beautiful monument or any structure in memory of the lost members of their family. Therefore, campaigns like “A life, a monument” should be operated jointly by the city and neighborhood improvement committees, bringing together citizens’ feelings and the city’s heritages. It is necessary to culturally develop Kathmandu by transforming it into an ‘open museum’.
Clean and green city
Currently, the main problem in Kathmandu is air pollution arising from smoke and improper waste management. Common citizens, who have not been able to eat healthy food or drink clean water, now can’t even breathe. The residents of Kathmandu need clean air, for which the dug roads must be patched up as soon as possible. The work being done by the metropolitan, of digging up road as it pleases, must be discouraged. It is also necessary to clean the rivers of Kathmandu, by including the rivers in the main agenda.
The classification of wastes produced from homes and businesses should be mandatory. Along with waste management in every household, excess organic waste produced can be used to generate gas and electricity by collaborating with the private sector. Plastic pollution must be controlled by implementing rules of reuse and recycle. Additionally, to reduce smoke produced by vehicles, policies must disallow the use of old vehicles or vehicles producing an unhealthy level of black smoke.
We need to bring back greenery to Kathmandu. Every student should be encouraged to plant and raise a tree on his/her birthday each year with the cooperation of Kathmandu municipality and local level governments so that by 2025, Kathmandu can become “Green Sundarmandou”. Collaboration between central and state level governments is a must to develop a grand park on the land of the Nayayanhiti Palace. This park can address the needs of children, families, people with special needs, and senior citizens.
City of opportunities
We have a complex work environment. Even registering a company or paying taxes is difficult here. The troublesome procedure of getting business insurance works against an investment-friendly climate. Entrepreneurs are fed up by closures, strikes and political interference. Kathmandu has opportunities but no business environment, so it is necessary to be able to turn Kathmandu into a city of opportunities. We must now create a positive work environment. Entrepreneurs need to be encouraged. Therefore, to run a business in Kathmandu, they need to be able to get their registrations within an hour, and businesses that aren’t doing well need to be able to shut down easily.
A safe environment must be provided for businesses to operate till late, for which an easy, accessible, and timely public transport system needs to be arranged. By monitoring all CCTVs in the streets, the city police must act strictly against those who disrupt the city’s peace and security. In addition, free WiFi should be made available on public bus stops, transports, major roads, and parks. In cooperation with the private sector, the government can make Kathmandu a ‘Free WiFi’ area at no additional financial burden.
In addition, special tax cuts must be arranged for energetic and creative entrepreneurs, which will make Kathmandu an inspiration for hard workers. Then Kathmandu should be declared a closure-free city. There must be severe punishment through strict legal processes for those who terrorize people for donations and against those who call for strikes. Only then will the people applying for DV and the businesses providing this service be discouraged, and Nepalis become entrepreneurs in their own city.
With the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s population as high as 20,000 people per sq km, it is necessary to make this city pedestrian friendly. Since the city is 8 km in diameter, every place can be reached by cycling. Neighboring cities like Nagarjun and Chandragiri need to have their roads pitched. Since there are many people in Kathmandu, there is a need for adequate open space so that social relations can be strengthened, citizens stay healthy, and those places work as shelters in emergencies.
Kathmandu should be developed in a way that is pedestrian-friendly as well as friendly for people with special needs. The management of footpaths and the repair of local parks have been delayed for far too long. To prevent air pollution from smoke, pollution tax policy must be instituted and implemented.
Kathmandu should also be developed into a birds and pet-friendly city. Stray cattle and other animals should be managed humanely. Approval for digging roads or for large constructions works should be given only after being provided with a concrete plan to control dust. Our city will be more organized if we could cancel licenses for a year of the motorists who make three traffic infractions in a single year, in addition to making them do 100 hours of community service under police supervision.
Finally, there are far too many problems with Kathmandu and we haven’t even started solving them. We thus need a leadership that is capable of solving problems. This is not impossible with responsible citizens and accountable leaders. We need a leadership which looks forward to creating a broad family rather than run a government. The work of leadership is to give solutions.
The energy of Kathmandu itself should overwhelm the country and lead it to progress. So there is no other option than to start the new journey from Kathmandu. Nepali politics has a repetitive cycle of voting and regretting. If this same cycle is to be repeated, we cannot expect different results. For that, this cycle must be broken. Now, the able-new generation must lead.
The writers are central committee members of Bibeksheel Sajha Party and candidates from Kathmandu 8 and Kathmandu 9 constituencies in federal parliament election