The shocking Delhi gang rape and the resultant nationwide outrage over poor safety of women has prompted the School Bus Owners’ Association to take serious note of security in buses in general, and of girl students in particular. In coming weeks, it plans to educate school bus drivers and conductors, as part of a campaign to make school buses safer for students.
The SBOA, which governs more than 10,000 buses in the city, will first conduct workshops in Mumbai. The plan will then be implemented in other parts of the state. A two-day seminar, in association with non-profit groups will educate bus drivers, cleaners and attendants on various safety and discipline matters, including gender safety.
This comes a week after a paramedical student was gangraped and assaulted in a moving bus operated by a private conductor in the capital. “After what happened in Delhi, anything can happen anywhere,” said Anil Garg, president, SBOA. “We have to make sure nothing untoward happens. We need to teach staff what acceptable behaviour is.”
In the past, there have been several incidents of molestation and harassment of girl students on board school buses.
Around 200 bus drivers and conductors will attend the first round of the session, to be conducted by the Lion’s Club, Vile Parle (East) on December 28 and 29. “The staff will be told not to touch girl students and to communicate with them through the woman attendant,” said Sagareeka Bhatia, vice president, Lion’s Club. Bus drivers and conductors will also be taught general decorum – for instance, they will be told not to chew tobacco/paan while driving.
Women attendants will be told to be posted on the bus at all times. Students will also be sensitised on discipline and safety, and instructed to complain to school authorities or their parents in case of any untoward incidents.
Garg said that at present, all buses have removed black films and curtains from windows.