Lessons from the Noney tragedy Focus on school vans

Says someting profound that it took the Noney tragedy to get the Transport Department cracking and remind school vans, buses and others to stick to the prescribed number of students for the safety and comfort of the school going children. The reminder from the Transport Department comes in the wake of Chief Minister N Biren Singh asking all school vans and school buses to stick to the prescribed number of students they are allowed to carry. Rather late in the day, one may say, but it is nonetheless significant to note that the Government seems to have been jolted by the Noney tragedy and one hopes the stand of the Government is carried forward by the different schools, private or Government. Not the first time that The Sangai Express has touched on this topic and this wouldn’t be the last either if no corrective measures are seen being taken up. If the Government seems intent on cracking down on school vans and buses which refuse to stick to the number of students one vehicle may carry, then one wonders what steps the different schools, particularly the private school authorities are mulling over. An eye sore it is to see young tots being packed inside a school van like the proverbial sardines in a can. Let the school authorities too crack the whip and ask the van operators to stick to the number of students each vehicle is allowed to carry. It is good fortune that till date there has been no huge loss of lives in road accidents involving van carrying school kids, but let the present situation carry on without any directives from the Government and the school authorities and there is nothing to suggest that a man-made human tragedy will not unfold. Parents and guardians too need to come out from their shelf and ask all school van operators to voluntarily fix the number of students each van may carry. This is about the safety of the young school going children and is not in any way a suggestion that undue pressure should be mounted on the school van operators. What about the credentials of the  drivers taking the wheel of a van carrying school going kids ? Shouldn’t the focus of the Government and the respective school authorities be on this also ?
Taking the children and the parents and guardians for granted and this is something which should not be allowed or tolerated. No one is asking the school vans to run their service or vehicle at a loss. If putting a cap on the number of students each van is allowed to transport is going to mean financial loss for the van operators, then options such as increasing the van fees  is something that may be studied. This is where opinions and suggestions from the parents may be sought. Most of the private schools in Imphal have their own parents association and it wouldn’t harm anyone to get their opinion and suggestion on the matter. Going to school and coming back home after school hour should not be reduced to a nightmarish experience for the young tots. And certainly packing them inside a school van like the proverbial sardines in a can, will only make the experience for the young students extremely unpleasant. The situation will get worse once the warm weather sets in and when it rains. One also hopes that the notification from the Transport Department is not a one off thing and checking the number of students a van carries should be conducted twice or thrice a year. Schools may also open a cell wherein parents and guardians may approach in case the driver of a school van does not co-operate with the number of students the van may carry at a time. It is also important for the traffic police to ensure that vans carrying school children stick to safety norms.