The manner in which Transport Department officials recently carried out the ‘road worthiness’ and ‘fitness’ of school/college buses in the district, following an accident occurred in Chennai, is coming under severe criticism from activists and consumer organisations.

“First of all, they have acted only after a fatal accident happened. Even then, the inspections were more or less an ‘eyewash’ as one could still see many buses carrying students doing services without the Supreme Court-stipulated horizontal grills on its windows and many other defects,” said N. Shanmugasundaram, president of Nallur Consumer Welfare Association.

Activists pointed out that the norms laid down by Supreme Court like the need to write ‘On school duty’ in the case of hired buses, mentioning of telephone number on the bus and allowing parents to travel in the buses to ensure safety norms were not adhered to in many buses.

Mr. Shanmugasundaram added that a closer look at the fitness certificates said to have been cancelled by Transport Department officials during the checks, which too a bare minimum in numbers considering the huge fleet size, would reveal certain unpleasant things.

“Some of the ones cancelled have been nearing its expiry anyway and some others were the ones related to already expired/non-live fitness certificates. But how many vehicles’ fitness certificates that are still live but did not satisfy the Supreme Court directive have been cancelled by these officials?” asked Mr. Shanmugasundaram.

Another area of concern raised by parents and activists are the fitness of the public transport buses and autorickshaws that carry students.

“Many public transport buses are in a bad shape and the auto rickshaws being overcrowded with students with the only aim of reaping money.

“The officials will be acting only after a serious accident,” V. Saraswathi, a parent pointed out.

Why cannot the transport officials conduct periodic check on all types of vehicles carrying students all through the year instead of reacting only after accidents occur, asked P. Somasundaram, secretary of Tirupur Consumer Voice.

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