Several vehicles, including auto-rickshaws and school vans, which ferry schoolchildren from villages to towns and from homes to schools within towns, are flouting traffic rules right under the nose of the district administration every day. Despite these violations they have been plying without any check, putting lives of children at risk.
As per sources, most school vans and auto-rickshaws are several years old and their original manufacturing design has also been altered to accommodate more and more children. However, authorities do not seem to be taking any action against them.
Many vehicles do not follow rules regarding the safety of schoolchildren and tend to carry as many children as they can. There are small number of school vans that have got speed governors instaled and many school vans have been made out of the old vehicles after buying old chassis from junk dealers, the sources claimed.
"Most of the school vehicles flout traffic rules but few of them are fined for violations. They are overcrowded, have altered designs and extended chassis. It is very risky for schoolchildren as accident can take place any time and it could be devastating. Overcrowding of vehicles has become a common sight in the district and people feel helpless," said Ashu Mittal, an advocate from Faridkot.
"Auto-rickshaws and other school vehicles carrying schoolchildren are overloaded and any mishap can take place, but parents are compelled to send their children in these vehicles as no alternative exists. Drivers claim that they are not better paid, so they cannot meet the rising cost of fuel," said Dr Jiwan Jot Kaur, convener of Aam Aadmi Party, Faridkot.
She added that, "Tax on fuel in Punjab is maximum and the district administration is sleeping over the matter of overcrowding of vehicles. The possible solution could be that providing school buses for free or at nominal rates, but private schools are only busy minting money. It should be legally binding on them to provide this facility."
"I have asked the district transport officer (DTO), Faridkot, to take a suitable action in this regard," said Mohammad Tayyab, deputy commissioner, Faridkot.