CHENNAI: Parents of school children in and around Broadway, George Town, face an ordeal everyday - they have to drop their wards in school amid heavy vehicle traffic during school hours.
Several complaints to the police have fallen on deaf ears. Parents of children studying in schools on Amman Kovil Street, Pedaraiyar Kovil Street, St Xavier’s Street and Portuguese Church Street, all within a radius of less than a kilometre, said, “We can only yell at the lorry drivers, when they enter these streets during school time. What else can we do?”
Jawahar, a parent, said, “I don’t take the streets, instead I go through the bylanes to avoid the route the lorries take to drop my child at Our Lady’s Centre Matriculation School”.
Paulraj, another parent, said, “At times, there are traffic constables near the Our Lady’s School, so the lorries don’t come.”
When contacted, the school principal, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “Since we can’t keep the lorries off, we don’t put pressure or punish the students for not being on time.” Siva Sankaran, a sub-inspector, attached to the Muthialpet police station, said lorries were allowed into the area only from 8 pm to 8 am, and admitted that some drivers breached the rule. There were always Marshals, Youth Brigade personnel, a traffic patrol and an SI in the school zones, he said, adding, “We don’t permit even mini-lorries, because we understand the problems they may cause to schoolgoers”.
John Andrew, correspondent, St Agnes Middle School and St Antony’s Nursery and Primary School on Portuguese Street said,”We have lodged several police complaints against the lorry drivers and godown owners to do the cargo-unloading and loading after school hours, but they don’t seem to bother”. The Portuguese Church Street is occupied by lorries, mini-lorries and vans, not to speak of bullock-carts and tricycles in front of the school premises, he added.
“Recently, CPM activist Jalal led a demonstration on this street to protest the presence of cargo carriers. For a couple of days, there were no heavy vehicles. After that, they were all back,” said Andrew.
“About six months ago or so, a Class II student got critically injured when a bundle, being unloaded from a lorry, fell on her. Fortunately, the child survived,” said Kasim, president of the Parents Teachers Association.
“If and when the parents protest, the loadmen issue threat. So, the parents are hesitant to object,” added Kasim.
But, the principal of St Anne’s on Pedariyamman Kovil Street Uma Rani begged to differ. She said, “My students come as early as 8 am and leave by 4 pm. We see two policemen near our school. The lorries arrive by night and leave before the school hours begin. We face no problem.”
D J Sagayaraj of Don Bosco School on St Xavier’s Street said, “We have been fighting to keep the lorries away. Our school management has raised the issue with the Muthialpet police, but nothing came of it.” He further said, “I have decided to submit a petition to the higher-ups in the police department.” When contacted over phone, Inspector of Muthialpet Police Station Janakiraman said, “Parents don’t realise we have posted eight policemen near the schools to ensure no heavy vehicles are around during school time.”