The regional transport authority (RTA) has issued a directive saying private vans used for transportation of children from schools would not be allowed from April 1 when the next session starts. All schools have been directed to issue circulars in this regard and tell the parents to avail regular school buses only.
RTA officials have also put out their number — 0124- 222444 — and have asked parents to get in touch with them in the event of any emergency or to register complaints regarding any transportation issue.
“We will start impounding all private vans ferrying students from April 1. Strict action will be taken against schools found violating norms. Only school yellow buses will be permitted to ply,” Trilok Chand, secretary, RTA, said.
The issue of safety and security of school students has become a major cause of concern for parents, school authorities and administrative officials.
However, a section of parents and some parents’ bodies are not happy over the directive saying that certain areas of Gurgaon are virtually rendered inaccessible for school buses. In some cases, there are not enough children residing in a particular area and hence, a school bus may not be a viable option for them.
Colonel (retired) Pratap Singh, president, Haryana Progressive School Conference (HPSC) said, “This could only lead to more hassle for the parents as well as schools. How can the authorities just decide to impound smaller vehicles (to ferry schoolchildren) without suggesting viable alternatives? The government should provide better transportation and roads and give licenses to operators of small vehicles so that they could ply on our roads.
An interactive session was recently conducted by the RTA, Gurgaon officials at DAV Public School, Sector-14 during which these issues were discussed.
With regard to students using private vans to commute to and from schools, inspector Harinder Kumar sought to sensitise the parents on the norms and guidelines that are to be followed by drivers to ensure the safety of students riding these vehicles.
Many parents in Gurgaon avail of private vans and cars to ferry their children, flouting the guidelines under the Surakshit Vahan Policy of the Haryana government.
Many schools don’t have enough buses and rely on private cabs. Some even arrange for cabs for the students and in some cases, the parents themselves arrange for vans for their children.
“These vans neither have permits and nor are they equipped with the necessary safety features. They are not sturdy vehicles that are safe to ride and are not equipped with speed governors or medical kits. There is no limit on the number of children they can carry. There’s no one on board to keep watch on children and ensure they are safe. Even the drivers don’t have the necessary papers,” Chand said.
A large number of students, across different schools, commute on these unsafe vehicles. “We discourage parents from using private vans and we tell them we have buses. A teacher or attendant always travels along with the students on the buses. They get off at the last stop and ensure the children are handed over to their parents,” Aparna Erry, principal DAV public school, Sector 14, said.
“We apprise them of all the safety measures which the school has already taken. I feel that since it is the prerogative of the parents to decide whether to opt for school buses or private transport for their children, it is very important that they remain well-informed and vigilant,” Erry said.
Many parents prefer cabs for their children as they get dropped off right at their doorsteps. Often, the buses, owing to their sheer size, can’t ply on lanes and have to drop off the students on the main road. Also, with more students on board, the buses often take long to drop off the children. Some parents prefer to have their children back home within half-an-hour after the schools give over.
“We have already taken an undertaking from the parents that anyone allowing their children to ride private vans are responsible for their safety as well. We don’t encourage them to avail of these vehicles,” Peeya Sharma, principal, Ryan International School, Sector 40, said.
However, the schools still have some precautionary measures in place. The parents are required to submit photographs of the drivers along with the registration numbers of their vehicles to the class teachers. Only then can the teachers allow the students to leave.