School buses in Guwahati flout safety norms

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School buses in Guwahati flout safety norms

Saumya Mishra | August 25, 2018 12:24 hrs

GUWAHATI: The city has been witnessing an increasing number of cases of school buses flouting safety norms. Residents have complained that school buses often indulge in over-speeding and over loading, hence putting the lives of children in danger.

Some of the vehicles which indulge in violating safety rules include vans, mini buses and even trucks which are used to ferry children to and from schools in Guwahati.

Rashmi Mazumdar, a city resident and parent of a class 5 student at a private school told G Plus, “I am often worried about the safety of children who go to schools cramped and over loaded in a small van or sometimes even autorickshaws. The authorities concerned should be more strict about such vehicle owners.” 
 
The Supreme Court has also laid out certain safety norms for school buses. However, school buses and other vehicles in the city are often found violating those norms. 

Some of these guidelines mandate all schools to ensure the presence of an attendant, there should be horizontal grills fitted on the windows of the buses, presence of fire extinguishers, cabs should be fitted with speed governors and the driver should possess valid license. 

In a recent example, Hitesh Kalita, convener IT, BJP Assam posted a video on his Twitter account drawing attention of the education minister towards the menace of private vehicle operators breaking rules. 

The video showed a large number of children being taken to a private school in the city in a small pick-up truck, which was modified to include a roof. 

He wrote: “There are 26 students inside this DI truck. Do we have some safety norms and regulations for a school bus.”

On the other hand, traffic police officials said that they conduct regular checks for violating drivers and take necessary action. 
  
“If we find school buses not following proper rules or any unregistered vehicles being used for school transport, we also take action and school authorities also become responsible,” informed DCP traffic, Amanjeet Kaur.   
 
She added that the traffic department works along with the transport authorities as well as the district administration in this regard. 

Kaur further said that they fine the drivers for indulging in over-speeding, for not wearing seatbelts, operating an old, poor-quality vehicle. 

“In some cases we have also found the private owners using different vehicles to ferry children,” informed traffic police officials.


Lack of parking space in schools 

With regards to safety of children, Kaur also mentioned that a major issue in Guwahati which needs to be solved, is the lack of parking space in a majority of schools. 

“I have personally written to all the school authorities and principals to make sure that they make arrangements for parking of school buses in their campus,” she said. 

Further, the issue of schools lacking adequate parking facilities was also raised at the regional transport authority meeting and a circular was sent to all schools to make sure there is enough parking space at their premises.
 
Officials said that in the absence of a parking place, the children have to come out on the road in order to board the bus, posing all kinds of risks. Additionally, parents who come to pick up or drop their children, have to park on the road, leading to traffic congestion. 

Regarding the mini vans which are in use by certain schools, the traffic police has written to the district administration that these vans should follow proper colour codes as prescribed in the guidelines. 
         
A source in the district administration informed that a lot of small private schools have been coming up in the city, with several of them operating from rented houses, making it difficult for officials to keep a check on them.

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