School bus owners in mood to go on strike over safety rules
The conflict over school transportation regulations is not yet solved and the school bus owner's associations have warned they will go on a strike if the state government does not arrive at a decision. This will affect thousands of school students at the beginning of the academic year
Since the school bus safety norms under the school transportation regulations were introduced two years ago, school bus associations have time and again objected to some rules and demanded the dilution of the regulations. Last month the transport committee made speed governors and the fixing of a new door at the back of the bus compulsory.
“We are ready to follow all the safety rules, but some are baseless, impractical and imposed without any discussion. The committee is not taking any initiative to understand our problems. In the previous meeting, the committee had promised to arrive at some solution on these issues before schools start, but no action has taken place.
A meeting of all school bus associations with the transport committee is expected to be held in two days,” Baba Shinde, a representative of the Pune School Bus Owners’ Organisation, said. According to the guidelines, a district school bus safety committee will recommend steps pertaining to safety of students and their transportation.
The committee will be headed by the police commissioner or the police superintendent. At school level also, there will be a school bus transport committee which will look after the implementation of the rules set by the government and it will take strict action against those violating the rules. Schools should also conduct regular meetings with the district committee.
“The safety of students is the school’s responsibility also and the school should give equal attention to all transport issues. No school has formed its committee and no meeting has taken place. The state government is only targeting school buses,” Shinde said.
Anil Garg, president of the School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA), said, “The court has given clear instructions that any government resolution (GR) on school transportation should be issued after proper discussion with all school bus associations. Despite this, the GRs for speed governor and fixing of door at the back were issued. We have filed a petition against the state government’s transport committee.”
Bone of contention
The school bus owners’ associations have objected to the following guidelines
>> Steel bar should be installed near every seat
>> There should be a woman conductor during the journey
>> A tray-like object below every seat to keep bags
>> There should be two doors, one at the front and the other at the back
>> Installation of speed governor
Price of speed governor doubled
For speed governors, the government has specified six standard agencies. School bus associations are claiming that after the speed governor notification was issued, the price of speed governors has been doubled wihout giving any reason. Anil Garg, president of the SBOA, said, “The price of the device was Rs 6,000, but now authorised agencies are asking for Rs 12,000-13,000. The agencies refuse to give any explanation.”