Overcrowding of school vans was found to be the most rampant violation by traffic police in their drive against errant school cab drivers. Over half the number of violations booked against 1,150 vehicles were that of the vans being packed with almost double of the vehicle’s permitted capacity.
“Safety of children is paramount. We have found kids sitting beside the driver in autos and vans and sometimes, hanging out from the vehicle as there is no space inside. Such modes of travel exposes them to life-threatening injuries or even death,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M A Saleem.
Nearly 16,000 privately-operated vehicles that transport children to over 6,000 schools in the city stayed off the roads on Wednesday.
Following the enforcement of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles (Conditions for vehicles engaged in transport of school children) Rules, 2012, and the extension of the deadline by a month from May 1, traffic police plan to continue raiding and booking vans.
In response to a request from the union, which covers 16,000 of the over 23,000 private school vehicles, Saleem clarified that no extension will be given.
“Traffic constables are in front of schools every morning to count the number of children in each van and check the vehicle documents. If overcrowding is found, a ticket is issued on the spot,” explained Saleem. “The raids will continue till all school vans comply with the rules. Schools with huge student population have a lot of such vans operating,” he said.
Shanmugam P S, president of the Karnataka United School and Light Motor Vehicle Drivers’ Union, demanded the tax levied on their vehicles to be brought down. On the requirement of a fitness certificate (FC) for vehicles older than 15 years, he said, “Nearly 80 per cent of our vehicles are more than 15 years old. It is not possible to replace them with new vehicles as many of our drivers cannot afford it.”
Ramalinga Reddy, Transport Minister said: We are only following the Supreme Court directions. The only thing we can do is postpone implementation of the guidelines. But we will have to implement it eventually. If we go against the SC guidelines, we will be held in contempt. I will not negotiate with drivers or school bus owners at this point. The police are handling it.
BMTC offers help
Although schools have not approached the BMTC for buses on charter services, it has asked conductors to pick up schoolchildren. “If schools get in touch with BMTC requesting chartered services, it will be considered on priority,” said Anjum Parvez, BMTC MD.