30 cases registered in Ernakulam RTO limits since June

The Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) authorities in the district have launched an intensive drive against the vehicles that transport students in a dangerous and negligent manner, since the start of the current academic year.

“Thirty cases have been registered under the Ernakulam Regional Transport Office limits alone. This was in addition to the cases registered by our sub-offices in Aluva, Angamaly, North Paravur, Tripunithura, and Mattancherry,” T.J. Thomas, Regional Transport Officer, Ernakulam, told The Hindu on Friday.

He said that the many fatal accidents involving vehicles transporting schoolchildren, reported from many parts of the State, during the last academic year prompted the department to adopt proactive measures to avoid similar tragedies in the district.

Overcrowding, operating vehicles without permit and employing drivers who do not have driving licences were some of the common offences detected during the drive. Action had been taken both against the vehicles of educational institutions and private vehicles engaged in school trips.

With the MVD taking a firm position, many operators, reportedly, cut down the number of students they carried while increasing the charge in the guise of compensating for it. This resulted in many parents approaching the department with the request to regulate the charge imposed by the school trip operators. “We were helpless since the government has not fixed a charge specifically for school trip operators,” Mr. Thomas said. It is hoped that a meeting to be held on Monday to decide the fare of stage and contract carriages will come up with a solution.

V.R. Sudheer, district secretary of the INTUC-affiliated Ernakulam District School Trip Drivers Union, however, said that while many operators increased the monthly charges by as much as 50 per cent citing the tough action by MVD, many of them continued to carry the same number of students as before.

“We try to sensitise the union members against the unhealthy practices that put the lives of children in danger. Those violating the provisions should indeed be taken to task,” he said.

Mr. Sudheer welcomed the conditions proposed by the Director of Public Instruction following an incident in which a school girl committed suicide, on being allegedly abused by the driver of a school vehicle.

On Thursday alone, Rs.57,000 was collected as fine from the Ernakulam RTO limits. “The intensive drive along with awareness campaigns for school authorities and parents to check on the antecedents of the driver and how children are being transported has indeed made a difference. Some schools are already complying with our suggestions to engage a safety officer,” Mr. Thomas said.

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