Udupi, July 7,2016: A wide range of opinions were put forth at the meeting of officials, school heads, NGOs, drivers of autorickshaws, maxicabs and vans carrying schoolchildren, here on July 6, Wednesday at Udupi.
The meeting in the backdrop of the death of eight schoolchildren in a road accident at Trasi on June 21, was to trash out matters. Dinesh Hegde Ullepadi, advocate, said that block education officers should have the details of the routes of school buses in their blocks.As there were complaints of high fees charged by school buses, the authorities should fix the bus fees depending on the distance. Tax exemption should be given to school buses, he said.
Ashok Kundapur, correspondent of Sandeepan School, Kambadakone, and John Walter, correspondent of St. Anthony’s School, Sastan, said that while school buses followed all safety norms on national highways, the other buses hardly did. Speed governors were installed only on official school buses not private ones, they said. Sunil from the Human Rights Federation said that though overspeeding by private buses was rampant on NH 66, action was not taken against them, several corners were seen to be cut by these vans/buses with out cases made out.
Y. Gangadhar Suvarna, who runs a school at Yellur, said that it was impossible for government officials to visit all schools in the district to check safety norms. The government should subsidize school bus travel for students.
Raghupati Bhat, former MLA, and president of the District Taximen and Maxicabs Association, said that the authorities should be practical while implementing government guidelines. Drivers of autorickshaws, vans and maxicabs ferried schoolchildren before and after school hours. After that they carry passengers.
Stopping their services will hit their earnings and also inconvenience the parents. But nearly 60 per cent of private vehicles are ferrying schoolchildren, which is illegal. Vishweshwar Adiga, headmaster of Sandeepan School, suggested the creation of school bus stands on NH66 to avoid multiple picking points. Gerald Crasta from Trasi said that private vehicles should be advised to give the same importance to school buses as given to ambulances on the roads.
Pramod Madhwaraj, Udupi district in-charge Minister, directed the Department of Public Instruction to send notices to schools not to fine either children or school bus drivers for being late for valid reasons. “Discipline should not be at the cost of lives of children,” he said.
K. Annamalai, Superintendent of Police, explained in detail the safety measures to be followed by school with regard to school buses, and other vehicles ferrying schoolchildren.
Speed governors compulsory : The RTO, Regional Transport Office, Udupi district, has made speed governors compulsory for all school buses, maxi cabs carrying schoolchildren and also private buses in the light of increasing road accidents and complaints of overspeeding from the people.
In a press release issued here on July 6, Wednesday, the Deputy Commissioner of Transport and Senior Regional Transport Officer said that it was essential that the school buses, and maxi cabs carrying schoolchildren and private buses installed speed governors. The drivers of these vehicles should follow all traffic rules. They should drive as per the prescribed speed limits. Action would be taken against violation of rules or speed limits, the release added.