Even as the new academic year has commenced, private operators, who transport children to school and back home are found to be blatantly violating the Supreme Court guidelines on the carrying capacity of such vehicles in south Goa.
Transportation of schoolchildren provides employment to hundreds of youth every year. However, nearly 80-85 per cent of such transporters are yet to register themselves with the transport department as mandated by the directives of the apex court.
The operators also violate the apex court directives on carrying capacity of such vehicles by accommodating children even two and half times more than the prescribed capacity or by altering the carrying capacity of the vehicles.
The apex court directives clearly state that if the age of schoolchildren is below 12 years, the number of children accommodated in a vehicle shall not exceed
1½ times the permitted seating capacity. A child above 12 years shall be treated as one person as per the directives. Similarly, driver of a vehicle transporting schoolchildren must carry a valid licence to drive a light motor vehicle-transport vehicle indicating that he has been driving such a vehicle for at least four years. The driver needs to also compulsorily wear a light blue shirt, light blue trouser and black shoes. His name must be displayed on the shirt. The apex court directives also state that enough space must be provided in the vehicle to keep school bags of the children. Moreover, the bags should not be hung outside the vehicle or placed on roof carriers.
However, the operators violate the directives by accommodating children beyond the seating capacity while also providing very little space for the children to keep their bags in the vehicle. Some children are also accommodated in the booth space. To make matters worse, the schoolchildren are transported in private vehicles.
Speaking to this daily, deputy transport director (enforcement) Prahlad Dessai said that transportation of schoolchildren in private vehicles is not an issue, but carrying on with it illegally surely is. He said that the transporters should register themselves with the transport department and carry out their business.
Dessai said that the government has provided buses to schools so as to dissuade children from being transported by private operators. However, despite the government move, people continue to avail private services to transport their children to school. He further said that the transport department has already written to all schools to discourage children from availing services of unregistered private operators adding that the department will be deputing teams randomly at various places to crack down on such illegal operators.
He said that a major concern remains in case of a mishap, as the transport department will be blamed and added that parents need to take the matter seriously and avoid such unregistered operators.
Sources, however, said that the transport department is reluctant to act on such operators due to the hardships faced by children, who are either delayed to school or are forced to stay hungry till the vehicle is released. Besides, the schoolchildren also have a tight schedule including proceeding for tuition classes and other extra-curricular activities after school and these activities can get disturbed if the transport department acts strictly on these operators, whose services are availed by working parents, who are unable to drop their children to school and collect them after class.