Cuttack, April 24: Expressing deep concern over the plying of school buses flouting road safety norms in the State, the State Transport Authority (STA) has appealed to schools to check the fitness of vehicles ferrying children and abide by Motor Vehicle law.
The appeal came after nearly 1,100 vehicles engaged in transporting school students in the State have been found to be plying flouting road safety rules during the ongoing week-long special drive to inspect school buses.
“It is the school management’s responsibility to ensure that Supreme Court guidelines for plying of school buses are complied with. ‘Policy on Transportation of School Children’ framed in 2016 should be strictly enforced. The school management should make sure that their buses are in order. They should ensure drivers are well trained and they have a valid driving license,” said Joint Transport Commissioner (Road Safety) Sanjay Biswal in a press communique on Sunday.
He said, “The issue of safety of school children’s transportation cannot be taken lightly. The concerned school bus operators and school managements are responsible for inconvenience to students, if any.”
“During the ongoing week-long special drive, so far, around 1,096 vehicles engaged in transporting school students in the State have been penalised for flouting road safety rules. It is a matter of serious concern that 820 vehicles were plying without fitness certificate, 387 vehicles did not have valid permits and 311 drivers did not have valid Driving License,” he said.
“The safety of children is paramount. No vehicle can ply without absolute compliance to the safety laws. While the drivers have been punished and fines have been imposed, the overall responsibility still lies with the school. The school authorities cannot turn a blind eye on this. It is their responsibility to ensure that drivers are physically fit and have a proper driving license to ferry school children.”
Similarly, schools which are engaging buses on contractual/ hire basis shall abide by the stipulations as applicable to the buses owned by school. School authorities should conduct safety audits of these vehicles as well, he said.
As per the guidelines, all the vehicles engaged in ferrying school children must have 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 numbers. There must be an attendant from the school on the bus.