Private cab operators in Mangalore gave several reasons why their vehicles could not be painted in a specific colour, why they could not specify that they were transporting schoolchildren, or fix speed governors.

While a slew of regulations have been proposed by the Transport Department for schools and vehicle owners to follow when transporting schoolchildren, private cab owners, parents, and teachers have their reservations on the issue.

Private cab operators in Mangalore gave several reasons why their vehicles could not be painted in a specific colour, why they could not specify that they were transporting schoolchildren, or fix speed governors.

Some of the private cab drivers (none of them wished their names to be mentioned) said if they changed the colour of the cabs to indicate they were “school cabs”, they would be unable to use their vehicles for other passengers. They would have to forego their supplementary income during the wedding season (April-May) when schools are closed. One of them said: “Let them give (us) a temporary permit.”

“Why is it done selectively?” they asked. Moreover, speed governors cost Rs. 18,000, which added to their costs. “Why can’t the manufacturer fix the speed governor? Why should we do it?,” asked one of them. “These are laws made by rich people. Our livelihoods depend on our vehicles. If you consider the cost of the vehicle, fuel, and maintenance, then it is difficult for us to get a profit. Let somebody else pay (for the governors) and we will do it.”

The cabs are crowded, they admitted, because going by the specified capacity is more expensive. “We can’t leave the children who cannot afford the high cost. Some parents send their children to private cabs because they say that it is a matter of just 10 minutes,” they said.

Dayananda Kateel, Vice-Principal, Sharada Vidyalaya, said the regulations were “nothing new.” He said that the school has 10 vehicles managed and run by the school. These are used by 300 to 400 (of 1,900) children in the school. The rest commute by private vehicles, over which the school management has no control. The issue is between the parents and the owners of the private vehicles.

The headmistress of an aided school (who did not wish to be named) said the school could run buses if the Government could pay for the bus, the drivers, and the staff. “We will need many buses as there are many routes. We even have 50 to 60 students coming from Manjeshwar, so if the government bears all the costs, that will be wonderful,” she said.

Sharanya, mother of two, said schools should have assistants to help the children commuting in vans. She said she had noted that there were two assistants in the bus of one international school in Mangalore.

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