Bhubaneswar: The State Transport Authority (STA) made an appeal Sunday to authorities of all schools to ensure only ‘fit’ vehicles are engaged in transportation of children. The STA said it is the school management’s responsibility to ensure that Supreme Court guidelines on plying of school buses are complied with. ‘Policy on Transportation of School Children’ framed in 2016 should be strictly enforced, it said.
“The issue of safety of school children transportation cannot be taken lightly. The concerned school bus operators and school managements are responsible for inconvenience to students, if any,” Joint Transport Commissioner (Road Safety) Sanjay Biswal said Sunday.
Biswal said as many as 1,096 vehicles engaged in transporting school students in the state have been penalised for flouting road safety rules during a week-long drive recently. “820 vehicles were plying sans fitness while 387 were operating without valid permit. Surprisingly, 311 drivers did not have valid Driving License,” the senior officer said.
“Safety of children is paramount. No vehicle can ply without absolute compliance to the safety laws. While drivers have been punished and fines have been imposed, the overall responsibility still lies with the schools. The school authorities cannot turn a blind eye to this. It is their responsibility to ensure that drivers are physically fit and have proper Driving License to ferry schoolchildren,” the STA said in a release.
Similarly, schools engaging buses on contractual/hire basis shall abide by the stipulations as applicable to the buses owned by them. School authorities should conduct safety audits of these vehicles as well.
As per the guidelines, all the vehicles engaged in ferrying schoolchildren must have a CCTV cameras, GPS trackers, first-aid box, proper grills, emergency exit, and fire extinguisher. They should maintain a list of students and their parents’ names and contact numbers. There must be an attendant from the school in the bus.
“Under no condition, overloading of vehicles is permissible. The number of children in the bus shall normally be restricted to its seating capacity. The carrying capacity of school buses and three-wheelers that transport school students should be displayed both inside and outside the vehicle,” the STA said.
These apart, every school should have a School-Level Transport Committee comprising parents, transport representatives, and school staff to look into matters pertaining to safe transportation of the schoolchildren. If a school does not have such committee, then it should immediately form one, the STA said.
Biswal also requested parents to be careful about commute of their children and know their rights.