Private vans refuse to ferry kids

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On Monday, Ms Jayalakshmi of Ayanavaram had to take leave from work as the school van driver refused to pick up her daughter studying in Class I in a school at Korattur, 10 km away.

Hundreds of parents of school-going children had a tough time on Monday with school van drivers staying away from work citing stringent regulations of transport officials and police personnel post last Wednesday’s incident, which claimed the life of a little girl.

Private school van drivers have decided to stay off the roads till Wednesday by when they will organise a state-level meeting to take a decision on a future course of action.

“The driver of the van carrying my daughter Bhavya called us last night and informed that the vehicle would not come to pick her up. As her father had to leave early for work, I had to take her to school.

I had a tough time travelling twice during peak hours in the crowded MTC bus with my kid,” complained Ms Jayalakshmi.

The story was no different in southern parts of the city. Ms Gayathri, a homemaker from the southern suburb of Sunnambu Kolathur said: “I was only informed in the last minute that we would have to take our kids to school as they would not operate vans for the next two days. We rushed our children to the school located 7 km away in Velachery on a two-wheeler.”

Mr Vairasekar, president of TN School Private Van Owners and Drivers Association, which claims to have 10,000 members, said, “They insist that we carry only 12+1 in maxicab vans which is impossible considering the nominal amount we charge; besides this there is the increased fuel charge along with driver and assistant’s labour.”

First aid box remains last option on buses

Though keeping first-aid boxes in buses is an RTO regulation, it seems to be a long forgotten rule as neither officials of the transport corporation nor passengers care about the necessity of such boxes.

As per rule 172 of the Tamilnadu motor vehicles Act 1989, a public transport vehicle should carry a first-aid box containing a copy of the first-aid leaflet, 24 sterilised finger dressing, 12 sterilised hand or foot dressing and large body dressing, one extra large, two large and three small sterilised burns dressing, two 15 gm packets of sterilised cotton, a bottle of 2 per cent tincture of iodine, a bottle of sal volatile, an empty bottle fitted with cork and a camel hair brush for eye drop and a 50 millilitre medicine glass.

Any private or state-owned bus that does not have a first-aid box with all these prescribed items could be taken off the roads by transport inspectors. Moreover, the box should be kept in a conspicuous place (behind the driver seat).

But, a majority of the buses, plying on moffusil and city routes in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts, lacks this facility.

Mr Ragavan, a bank staff in EB colony, Tirunelveli, who shuttles between Tirunelveli and Nagercoil, explained a nightmarish experience of how an accident victim who lost his leg died due to heavy loss of blood near Nanguneri. “If the bus had had a first-aid kit, his life could have been saved,” the bank employee said ruefully.

In yet another incident near Deivaseyalpuram, in Thoothukudi district, last Saturday, a school boy strayed close to a bus.

Though he had a providential escape, he suffered bruises on his arms. But, he could not be given first-aid as the first-aid box in the bus was empty.

City buses operated by TNSTC, Tirunelveli division, also do not have first-aid kits. Private buses are also no exception, said a motor vehicle inspector, seeking anonymity. “If at all they have a proper first-aid kit, the medicines would be outdated.”

He added that if the regulating authorities strictly followed the rule and seized buses that don’t have proper first-aid kits, the public transportation system would almost come to a halt as around 70 per cent of the state-owned buses and private buses do not have first-aid kits.

Appreciating the regional transport authorities for checking the fitness of vehicles owned by schools and colleges at least after the death of school student Shruthi in Chennai, Mr Shanmuga Sundaram, a retired headmaster, demanded similar fitness check for state-owned and private city buses that are used by poor students in the rural areas.

2,250 school vehicles in three Western districts checked

Coimbatore zone deputy transport commissioner and his officials have inspected 2,250 educational institution vehicles in Nilgiris, Tirupur and Coimbatore districts while the regional transport inspectors have cancelled 51 vehicles fitness certificate and also issued minor fault notice to 160 vehicles.
On Monday, officials inspected 35 vehicles in VOC Park ground here.

According to Deputy Transport Commissioner, Coimbatore Circle, K.N Uthayanun, there are 3,564 educational institution vehicles (EIV) in Coimbatore and of them 1,289 college are college buses.
The officials noted that 1,314 more school vehicles in three districts have to be checked.

Meanwhile, district collector M. Karunakaran conducted a meeting for education institutions in the presence of transport and police department officials.

He directed the transport department to follow the Supreme Court order on guidelines in inspecting vehicles.

“Contract vehicles should furnish their details to the educational institutions. If school vehicles like auto rickshaws, vans and other vehicles are found overloaded they can be immediately seized and issued a check report,” added the district collector.

Zion school prays for girl

The Zion Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Selaiyur, which was closed five days ago, reopened on Monday.

The school was closed after a 6-year-old student Shruthi fell through the hole on the floor of the moving school bus on Wednesday.

The day started with a condolence meet for the deceased student.

The school had sent short service messages (SMSes) to parents saying school would reopen on Monday and they need to drop their children in school, as it would not operate its vehicles until further notice.

Some parents complained that the school management had collected `10,000 for transportation with the annual fee but refused to operate buses until further notice.

Parents urged the management to refund the transport fees.

It may be pointed out that a group of parents studying in the school on Sunday staged a protest seeking to reopen the school, as the management had announced indefinite closure of all the three schools it runs.

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