VIJAYAWADA: Gross negligence on the part of school managements and transport authorities is putting lives of children in danger. As the school bus-train collision at Masaipet in Medak has snuffed life out of innocent children, now all attention has shifted towards the safety of school buses.
School buses, which were the prized possessions of a few schools in the past, have become almost mandatory for every school now. “School buses have become a fancy for schools now. Even parents are thinking that schools which have a bus are better than those which do not have them,” says J Sairam Prasad, vice-president of Krishna District Unaided School Managements Association.
In Krishna district, there are more than 2,000 school buses. But how many of them have the required safety standards and well-trained drivers is a big question.
“It is unfortunate that the lives of innocent kids are put in jeopardy due to schools buses. But what can small private schools do in this competitive world? Unlike corporate schools, we do not have enough resources. But in spite of it we make all efforts to provide good facilities to students,” says the owner of an unaided school in Vijayawada.
As the exigencies of school managements are forcing them to compromise on the safety of students, officials of the transport and education departments are turning a blind eye to the condition of school buses and the eligibility of drivers.
“God only knows how school managements recruit such careless and unfit drivers. Normally, schools recruit drivers who are retired or young. The school bus drivers lack traffic sense and cause problems even to us,” said a police officer working with the traffic wing in Vijayawada.
Every year transport officials conduct raids and seize school buses which do not comply with the rules. After that, they completely forget about school buses and wake up from the slumber if some accident occurs.
Meanwhile, Krishna district education officer D Devananda Reddy said that the department would conduct a meeting with correspondents of schools to sensitise them on the safety of school buses.
How to Cross a Crossing
According to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the driver must immediately stop at an unguarded railway level-crossing
The conductor or any other person in the vehicle must walk up to the level crossing and ensure that no train or trolley is approaching from either side and then move the vehicle across such level crossing
If in case there is no one in the vehicle then the driver shall get down to ensure that no train or trolley is approaching from either side
Checking the whistling habits of loco pilots while approaching the level-crossings by deputing officers and supervisors in the first coach
Joint ambush checks at the level-crossings to apprehend errant road users under sections of Motor Vehicle Act
Ensuring availability of speed breakers, whistle boards, road signs and stop boards at level-crossings
Seminars on safety at road transport offices and educational institutions
Vijayawada Not Completely Foolproof
Vijayawada: According to senior public relations officer of the Vijayawada Division, FR Michael, there are 92 unmanned and 389 manned level-crossings in the division that includes Krishna, East and West Godavari districts. “While all the manned level-crossing zones exist on the railway main lines, the unmanned level crossings are located on the branch lines,” he added. A whopping 40 per cent of level-crossings in the country are unmanned. While 30 per cent of them are under the purview of the South Central Railway, 20 per cent of them are in Vijayawada Division. Officials say that they would remove all unmanned-level crossings by 2016.
4 Potential Death Traps in WG, EG
Rajahmundry: There are two unmanned railway gates at Durgada and Timmapuram in East Godavari and two more in the neighbouring West Godavari district at Nidadavole and Chagallu at a distance of just 3 km. Hundreds of vehicles such as school and college buses, RTC buses, sugarcane lorries pass through the four gates in the two districts. Every hour, five to six trains pass through the gates located on the Chennai-Kolkata mainline. For the locals, the unmanned railway gates are a curse.