Keeping an eye on private vehicles

Keeping an eye on private vehicles

Keeping an eye on private vehicles

Monitoring private transport has always been a challenge for schools. The shocking rape of a six-year-old has forced many schools to pull up their socks and not only make the school premises more secure but also regulate the school and private transport.

While some schools have taken the matter rather seriously, others say it is indeed a hard task to monitor the private transport.

Metrolife interacted with a couple of school authorities and officials with the regional transport department to understand what measures have been taken to keep a check on private transport carrying children to their respective schools.

The Bangalore City Police recently issued a directive stating that all schools must compulsorily install CCTVs in prominent locations within the school premises. A Supreme Court ruling in 2011 stated that all private transport vehicles used to transport school children must comply by certain regulations but nothing much seems to have been done.

“Just like how school buses have certain safety measures, even private vehicles must adhere to certain measures such as not overloading the vehicle. Autos must not carry more than six children and the load in omni vans varies depending on the seating arrangements. Auto drivers must have a valid licence to transport the children and should not drive at a high speed.

Private vehicles that violate these measures are liable for strict fines. As far as CCTV cameras are concerned, we have no such scheme implemented for non-private vehicles,” explains a senior official with the Regional Transport Department.
Metrolife did a reality check  and the scene seemed quite different. Some autorickshaws were overloaded with some children sitting in the driver’s seat. In some cases, children were literally packed in omni vans.  

Schools like Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and St Johns’ High School have their own fleet of buses and concede that it is hard to regulate private transport. Some schools do not even have school vans, leaving parents with no option but to depend on private transport like omni vans and autorickshaws.

Arul Raj, office superintendent of St Johns’ High School, agrees that is it impossible to regulate private transport. “We have strict rules when it comes to regulating our school vans but we have no control over private vehicles. But as a safety measure, we have started issuing a visitor’s pass and restricted the entry into the school premises,” states Arul. He adds, “In an effort to regulate private vehicles, we now have an entry pass which will have the picture of the person who comes to pick up the child whether it is the father, mother, guardian or driver. And this pass should have the signature of the parent. Only then will the child be allowed to go with them. The passes are manually checked at the entrance.”   

Parents say that they choose to send their children in private vehicles like autos and omni vans because it is an  economically viable option. Parents spend anything between Rs 1000 and Rs 1,500 as transport fees for school buses which vary depending on the distance.

“I used to send my children in the school bus but now, I’ve shifted to a new locality where there is no connectivity. So the school bus refuses to pick up children saying that it is longer and a time-consuming process. So I am forced to send my child by an omni van,” says Suresh, a parent whose children study in Antony Claret School in Jalahalli.

He adds, “But a single omni van carries almost 16 children, which is a major concern but I am left with no option.”

The owners of autorickshaws and mini vans claim that they are extremely careful while transporting school children and make sure they don’t exceed the stipulated number in the van.

Manjunath who works as a driver with Bishop Cotton Boys School, sums up saying, “I paid Rs five lakh to buy a van and I’ve also installed a child lock system in the van to ensure that the children are safe. I treat them like my own and feel responsible for their safety.”