School Bus Owners' Association irked with Transport department for not waiving some of the rules in school bus safety norm and pulling up buses for not implementing them
School bus woes are back to haunt the city's parents again. Upset with the government for not clarifying matters on the contentious school bus safety policy, the School Bus Owners' Association (SBOA) of Maharashtra has decided to go on an indefinite strike from February 6.

No meeting point: School bus owners are unhappy with the state
transport department's ruling asking them to take all buses over 15 years
off the roads. representation pic

They claim that even though the department had promised to waive some of the stipulations as per their requests, it has not done so officially, and has been penalising bus owners. 

 Observing that the government has not complied with its requests, and has instead issued memos asking for their implementation to 400 school buses, the SBOA held a meeting on January 28 in Thane, where it was unanimously decided to conduct an indefinite strike. According to the SBOA, the Transport Department has not issued the fitness certificate to school buses.

 Anil Garg, president of SBOA in the state, said, "The meeting was conducted on Sunday in Thane, where all the school bus owners decided that they would go on an indefinite strike. The notices have been sent to the CM Prithviraj Chavan, the Transport Commissioner and the Principal Secretary, intimating them that the strike will be flagged off on Feb 6. The yellow vans which ferry students have also decided to join us."

 Rajesh Pujari, Thane district secretary of SBOA, said, "There are around 4,000 school buses in Thane -- including areas like Vasai, Virar, Badlapur. The Transport Department had earlier verbally cancelled some norms from the policy, such as racks for school buses or rods for children to hold on to, but traffic officials have been fining us for not implementing these norms. Moreover, the officials want us to take all buses over 15 years off the roads.

We had requested them to extend the permissible age of buses from 15 to 25 years, but they have turned down our request. A single school bus costs Rs 25 lakh; will parents be happy if there is a hike in school bus fees, caused by the purchase of new buses? Moreover, how can we drive the new school buses without the permits, when the department has stopped issuing permits for new vehicles?"

S K Sharma, principal secretary, transport, said, "The Transport Commissioner is going to meet me tomorrow, and we will discuss the issue."