JAMMU, July 15: Traffic Police crackdown on the school buses not adhering to the Supreme Court guidelines and the Motor Vehicle Act led to a chaos like situation in Winter Capital of the State here today as operators of the private vehicles ferrying school children went on indefinite strike.
Schools children and their parents had to face tough time as all the private vans, minibuses and auto rickshaws, operating as school vehicles, did not ply on the road in protest against alleged harassment by the Traffic Police, which has tightened noose around illegal school buses.
In absence of no school vehicle, the parents had to personally reach to the respective educational institution of their wards with the result that there was massive rush of private vehicles in front of these schools during the afternoon hours. It led to unprecedented load on the city roads and virtual choking of traffic in front of these schools.
Because of the situation due to school vehicles’ strike and additional traffic load on the city roads, students and their parents remained stuck in vehicular jams and at some places, it took hours to cover a distance of few kilometers.
Pertinent to mention here that the Traffic Police has launched a drive against the vehicles plying illegally as school transport in violation of Supreme Court guidelines and the Jammu Kashmir Motor Vehicle Act.
As per Supreme Court guidelines, the school buses should be painted yellow, fitted with a First Aid Box, fire extinguisher, horizontal grills, reliable door locks, speed governor of specified standard, space fitted under the seats for keeping school bags, etc.
‘School Bus’ must be written on the back and front of the bus and if it is a hired one, “On School Duty” should be clearly indicated. Further, the school name and Telephone number must be written on the bus while there must be a qualified attendant to attend to the children in the vehicle.
The driver should have at least 5 years of experience of driving heavy vehicles. A driver who has been challaned more than twice in a year for offences like red light jumping, violation of lane discipline or allowing unauthorized person to drive, cannot be employed. Further, a driver who has been challaned even once for the offence of over speeding, drunken driving and dangerous driving etc cannot be employed.
Similarly, as per the Motor Vehicles Act, a school bus means a vehicle with a seating capacity of 13 passengers and above, excluding driver, designed and constructed specially for school going children. Being a transport vehicle, it should also need to undergo mandatory fitness test every year without which the permit cannot be renewed.
Therefore, a van or Light Motor Vehicle with seating capacity less than 13 passengers, can’t even apply for registration as school vehicle. According to a rough estimate, there are around 10 thousand vans and LMVs presently plying as school vehicles. Not allowing them to ply on road would virtually render 10 thousand operators unemployed and directly hit their families, said Sonu, who has been operating a van for ferrying school children for the last more than ten years.
However, on the other hand, IG Traffic, Alok Kumar said the drive was aimed for safety of kids and they had already alerted these vehicle operators. Parents and schools should support our drive for good of the children and society, he added.
SSP Trafic, Jammu, Joginder Singh also said that there was no intention to render these vehicle operators as unemployed and the drive was aimed to ensure implementation of SC guidelines as well as Motor Vehicle Act norms in the State.