GUWAHATI, Feb 1 � The condition of majority of the school buses plying on the roads of Guwahati city has become a cause of serious concern and though the Transport Department carries out drives from time to time, that is far from adequate to ensure safety of the children. In recent times, there have been several instances of school bus accidents on city roads and there is urgent need for the Government to look into the matter.
Official sources told The Assam Tribune that recently, the Transport Department launched a special drive to check the condition of the school buses and eight buses have been seized. The officials of the Department also held a series of meetings with the school management committees in this regard, but the fact remains that even today, a number of buses in dilapidated condition are used to transport children to schools.
Official sources admitted that the school buses should be checked at least once a year and fitness certificates should be issued on the basis of the same. But on the plea of shortage of staff, the routine is not followed extensively, as a result of which buses in poor condition are still transporting children.
Sources said that as per the regulations, there is a long list of norms that the school buses should follow. These include not only the condition of the buses, but the windows should be such that no children can put his or her hands out of the windows. But in most cases, the windows of the buses are not properly covered and it is possible for the children to put hands out. Sources said that all the seats of the school buses should have seat belts, but this norm is not followed in most cases. The drivers of some of the school buses do not wear proper uniforms, which is mandatory as per law.
Official sources admitted that the school buses should not be parked on the roads and every school should have their own parking place. But in most of the schools of the city, the buses are parked on the busy roads, which not only create traffic congestion, but also put the lives of the children at risk as they have to get down from the buses on the busy roads and, sometimes, they have to cross the roads to get into the schools.
There have been times when mad rush by the drivers to reach schools on time resulted in accidents, and official sources said that traffic police personnel and Transport department officials must work together to chalk out a plan to check the menace.
Sources admitted that the problem of use of �condemned buses� as school buses increased following the mushrooming growth of private schools in the city, and there is urgent need for regular drives by the Transport Department to ensure that the buses are kept in proper condition to ensure safety of the children.