Schools should appoint their own women attendants for school buses within seven days, failing which bus operators will not provide their own, bus operators said on Sunday.
At a meeting between 30-odd bus operators on Sunday, the School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) also decided to give schools a seven-day ultimatum to sign the contractual agreements with the operators.
According to the school bus policy, schools have to sign a contract with bus transport providers on behalf of students while hiring bus services for the children.
The implementation of the bus safety policy has become a key concern since a nursery student was allegedly molested in a school bus of a Juhu school last month.
Bus owners have complained that students are badly behaved with the attendants the bus owners have employed, while parents and schools have complained that the attendants don’t know all three languages: English, Hindi and Marathi.
“Schools are not happy with our attendants, let them supply their own then there will be accountability from their side also,” said Anil Garg, president of the SBOA. “If they don’t supply the attendants, we cant supply them either.”
He also said the contract, which only a handful of city schools have signed, is a pre-requisite for getting permits, without which buses would be plying illegally. However, the demand about schools employing women attendants may not be valid.
“Appointing the bus staff has to be the contractors’ responsibility because the operator is the principal employer and their salaries are paid by the contractors,” said Indrani Malkani, member of the government committee that drafted the school bus safety policy.
Schools are unsure of what to do if such a situation arises. “If this is what they are saying, we will have to discuss the issue with our management,” said Namrata Kulkarni, principal of VBM Modern High School near Grant Road.