Thanks to the geographical differences, travelling on the roads of Nepal is enriching in many ways. Highways running straight, along the river banks, through the forests, around the hills and beneath the Himalayas make the ride/drive/travel memorable even if the road is in bad shape. Yet, the scene is overshadowed by the litter thoughtlessly discarded by passing commuters. Despite the turns and narrow roads, the Banepa-Bardibas Highway provides a quality experience for commuters.
On many rides along the highway, I have come across different experiences with other vehicles and commuters. Scenes from the same spot feel different every time. But one thing has been common: soured mood after sighting litter and vomit.
Only recently, as I was returning to Kathmandu after Chhath concluded the one-month-long festival period, I was behind a public bus along the Banepa-Bardibas Highway. Since the highway is narrow and has a lot of turns, I had to stay behind the bus waiting for a proper overtaking spot.
Deftly manoeuvring around the bus for a safe overtake along the sharp bends, I was lucky enough to apply brakes as I saw a passenger throwing a plastic bag of vomit through a window of the bus. It blasted ahead, and I twisted the throttle with my chin high to escape disgusting sight.
I avoided the sight of the vomit then (or it might have also been a direct hit). But, since focusing on the road is a must for a motorcyclist, with each kilometre travelled in many journeys along the highway, my frustration has mounted, fuelled by the sight of litter and vomit thoughtlessly discarded along the highway.
Meanwhile, littering is a problem not only along the Banepa-Bardibas Highway. Vomits have tarnished my otherwise memorable journeys while travelling to other hilly districts, such as Tehrathum, Ilam, Panchthar and Dhankuta of Eastern Nepal, as well.
While the East-West Highway is straight and runs mostly along the plain lowlands, few passengers vomit, throwing few vomit bags onto the road. Nevertheless, packages of junk food and bottles of cold drinks are thrown carelessly along the straight highway.
It leads to the conclusion that there are litter louts everywhere in Nepal.
There is not a single reason why authorities should be blamed for the highways disfigured by littering. Public buses do not keep dustbins and passengers do not use the dustbins (if kept by buses).
It is disheartening to see the otherwise pristine landscape spoiled by the litter left by inconsiderate travellers. We should keep our environment clean. Not throwing any type of waste is the best step rather than littering with a belief that it would be cleaned later. Nobody likes seeing vomit or trash along the highway. Ensuring a clean highway is possible if we all simply do not litter.