Even as school van operators have gone on an indefinite strike after the district administration started impounding old and unsafe vehicles, the administration has decided to intensify the drive, claiming that “it is the time to act”.
After seven children were killed as their school van fell off an unsafe bridge in Muhawa village last Tuesday, the district administration had started the drive to check unsafe vans. About 45 vans were impounded by the local authorities. Though the district transport office (DTO) has acted tough and impounded vehicles, the traffic police are yet to act.
Van operators, meanwhile, have alleged they are being wrongly targeted during the special drive and even vans in good condition are being impounded. The administration has denied the charge.
“We are very serious on this issue. We will soon hold a meeting with van operators. But we are firm on the decision to not allow unsafe vans on roads,” said Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam, adding, “There have been enough meetings and now it is the time to act. The concern about safety is very much genuine and the administration is doing its job.”
Even though the administration was rounding up outdated vans earlier too, the action following the Muhawa incident seems to suggest the administration has finally got serious about the violation. Besides the unsafe bridge, the poor condition of the school van was a major issue raised after the accident. Van operators who are on strike are likely to stage a dharna in Amritsar on Wednesday.
PARENTS A HARRIED LOT
As school vans remained absent from the roads for second consecutive day in the city, parents had to pick up and drop schoolchildren. Other than the administration, even schools are showing their helplessness over the strike.
Though, a few schools in the city have their own vans, the majority depend on private operators. Meanwhile, auto-rickshaw operators ferrying schoolchildren also joined the strike on Tuesday. They were seen trying to stop other three-wheelers plying on the city roads too.