Reacting to the Delhi Transport Department’s direction to schools to adhere to the strict guidelines for drivers and vehicles carrying school children in the Capital, Delhi schools have said that there should be absolutely no relaxation in these guidelines to ensure safety of students. Parents and private vehicle owners have noted that while safety has to be of prime concern, convenience should also be a major deciding factor.
Sarla Kaur, whose child comes to St. Columbus School from South Delhi, said: “The school does not offer transportation for kindergarten students and we have to organise our own vehicles for bringing and taking back our children. So we are totally dependent on the transport available and it is not possible for working parents to spend the entire year transporting children for three hours of school time. Though we completely agree that guidelines have to be followed, but what is equally relevant to consider is the fact that there are practical problems.”
Stating that “practical problems” was no excuse and that safety of children was supreme, Bal Bharati School Principal L.V. Sehgal said: “We have issued strict instructions to parents that they cannot engage drivers who are not verified and whose vehicles don’t have registration. These instructions were issued last year itself and we have re-issued them following the death of a young student recently. Our drivers have to be verified, in uniform and have to have proper registration. Parents have to understand that we have to prevent as many accidents as possible and not overlook necessary steps and guidelines to ensure this.”
Meanwhile, private vehicle owners who are using their vehicles for ferrying students claim that while it is true “that there is overcrowding of children, drivers are often not in uniform and over-speeding happens almost on a regular basis. However, we carry on because there is a market for their services.”
“We are careful when the children are with us but sometimes accidents happen. As for getting proper registration, corruption and long delays in the government system often prevent us from having adequate documentation,” said a cab owner.