Noney mishap of 2022 and the ‘warning’ Focus on school vans

The Noney road mishap that claimed the lives of 7 students, one teacher and one warden while they were out on a study tour on December 21 last year is recent, very recent, if one views the time frame in the backdrop of the human tragedy, but public memory sure is short. Very short, if one may add. Not even 60 days yet since the tragic road mishap and today it is not uncommon to see packed, nay overcrowded school vans, moving around and discharging their job of picking up school going tots and dropping them off at school and later picking them up and taking them back home. Even as details and the reality of the Noney road mishap began to sink in, Chief Minister N Biren ‘rose to the occasion’ and announced for one and all to hear that school vans would be scrutinised to see whether they subscribe to the limit of children they may ferry to school and back. ‘Cancelling the driving license of the van driver concerned and action against the school’ was the lined toed by the Chief Minister and this could not have come at a more opportune moment, coming as it did on the day of the tragic road mishap at Noney. Back in December last year, The Sangai Express had acknowledged the announcement of the Chief Minister and chipped in with the suggestion that private school authorities too should ask the school  van drivers to stick to the number of students prescribed by the Government. However as things stand today, there is nothing much to suggest that the words of caution and warning from the Chief Minister have had any impact on the ground reality. Still a common sight to see as many as ten or more school going children, all who are in Nursery, Class I and Class II, being squeezed inside a school van and at stake here is the safety and security of young school going children. Now is the time for the Government to crack the whip and pull up the erring van driver and even the school concerned for what one is talking about here is the safety and security of young school going kids. One also wonders what is stopping the numerous private schools from laying down certain rules and regulations such as that a single school van cannot carry more than a specified number of students at one time. Or is it a case of leaving everything to the Government and the department concerned ? What about the traffic cops who are stationed at strategic locations at Imphal ?
Perhaps it would be in line with the urgency of the matter and the reality around, that the Government comes out with the specified number of student that a school van may carry and give it wide publicity. Given the growing traffic congestion on the roads of Imphal, it is only right that school children are not packed off like the proverbial sardines in a can while going to school and while coming back home. Apart from the safety question, it is also right for all to question whether packing off young kids in an over crowded van to attend school is making the process of learning come anywhere the understanding of making education fun. This is not how young and impressionable young tots should be baptised into the world of school education. Parents and guardians of different schools too can come together and come to a stand that over packing their children in a school van cannot be accepted. Let the school also get in touch with the school vans association/s and come to the common ground that over packing young school kids in a van is not acceptable. Work a way out to ensure that the journey to school and back for the young kids is more enjoyable than what is in vogue right now. At stake here is the safety of the children.