District Magistrate Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary on Wednesday issued an order directing all schools operating in the district to ensure strict adherence to bus safety rules and guidelines.
The order comes in the wake of growing complaints and reports of overloading among other practices of negligence in school buses putting lives of children on board in risk.
It directs school principals to ensure compliance with all relevant rules and Supreme Court guidelines aimed at ensuring the safety of student while on their way to and from schools. It states that school principals will be responsible for adherence to the said guidelines and violations thereof.
The order directs for strict carriage as per capacity in school busses strictly warning against carriage that is in excess of their seating capacity. It also directs for having seat-belts on seats of vehicles used as school busses and ensuring these remain fastened while the vehicle is moving.
It directs that all school buses used for ferrying students must have proper passenger vehicle permits issued by the competent authority. It also directs that those hired for driving schools buses must have a minimum of five years worth of experience in driving passenger vehicle adding that hired drivers must not have any past record of traffic offences.
The order also directs that all school buses must have an attendant on them to look after the children onboard. It directs that all schools buses must also have first-aid boxes and portable drinking water available on them just in case the children on board need these facilities.
It also instructs that all vehicles used as school buses must have the name and telephone number of the school and “On School Duty” written on them both at the sides and the front and back thereof.
The order directs the concerned authorities to seize all such vehicles as found violating any of the relevant guidelines in this regard or instructions as stated in this order. It states that seizure memos will have “seized for adopting practices in violation of Supreme Court guidelines” noted thereon as a reason for seizure in order to ensure strictest punishments.
The DM has urged the public in general and the parents of school children in particular to report instances of violations of the order to his office assuring of immediate and the strictest action under law against principals whose school buses are found violating any of the bus safety rules or the said instructions.
School principals have been instructed to immediately convene parent-teacher meetings on the subject being also asked to make minutes of these meetings to be made available for inspection as and when asked.
The order also instructs all schools in the district to constitute road safety clubs and convey details thereof to the SSP Traffic and RTO Kashmir who will organise relevant training for members thereof. School managements have also been asked to focus on road safety education and take proactive steps in this regard.
The order states that a review will be held after every two weeks to verify adherence to and implementation of instructions of the order. It states that all schools will also be assessed for road safety activities.
It states that instructions contained in this order became imperative in view of the non-serious approach of school management in this regard resulting in the problem growing into alarming proportions with overloading among other forms of negligence seriously endangering lives of children on board school buses.