Traffic Police in Kathmandu

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As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.

These traffic officers are equipped with only the most basic accessories - respiratory masks, a whistle, gloves, and a high visibility gear.

Even the pursuit of a better quality respiratory mask would cost them Rs 5,000; money they’ll have to extract from their own pockets.

You’ll find these men and women standing solemn and alert in busy intersections manually conducting traffic for four to five hours with work shifts as long as twelve hours. They only have one uniform and after most days they will not have enough time to wash them for their next shift.

The exhaust and dust that they continuously battle through can have adverse effects upon their health and with the infamously prospective, though seemingly hazardous, ongoing laying of pipeline for the Melamchi Drinking Water Project, the air quality has undoubtedly been compromised all the more.

According to Air Quality Index (AQI), long-term health effects include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even considerable damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys.

Traffic policing is arguably the toughest and most demanding of jobs, both physically and mentally. The mere thought of standing in the same spot for hours, in beaming sunlight, the swirling dust, polluted air and horns honking, will make one realize how traffic policemen have been under appreciated in the city’s hustle and bustle.

Sean Carmichael is a Canadian photojournalist doing internship in Kathmandu with InternshipNepal.

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    As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.

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