The committee will interact with drivers and initiate the appointment of cleaners to maintain safety. It will also ensure vehicles carry the permitted number of children and undergo regular fitness tests

Matriculation schools in the State will form a committee to monitor their school buses and autorickshaws that ferry students to their institutions. The committee will also initiate training in fire safety on school vehicles and ensure that vehicles undergo fitness tests.

The decision was taken at a meeting that Transport Commissioner T. Prabhakara Rao conducted with school associations, auto rickshaw drivers unions and the maxi-cab drivers union on Friday. “Transport department officials said they have submitted a 20-page report to the High Court on the new rules for vehicles transporting school students,” said K.R. Nandakumar, secretary of Tamil Nadu nursery, primary, matriculation and higher secondary schools association.

The committee will be formed at the zonal level. It will ensure that the vehicles carry the permitted number of school children. “We will ensure that autorickshaws take the fitness tests once a year on weekends and buses during May every year. If some fault is found in any of the vehicles, we will alert the owner and ask him to rectify it immediately,” said Mr. Nandakumar.

The zonal-level committee will hold weekly meetings with the drivers of vehicles that carry school children. “The Regional Transport Officer (RTO) of the respective locality will be part of the meeting. The meetings will highlight the importance of safety of school vehicles. We have asked the autorickshaws to fix grills to prevent children from falling out,” he said.

The committee will also ensure that the school buses have a properly trained cleaner in the vehicle. “He has to ensure that the children board and get down safely. He will also be trained in fire safety and will ensure that fire extinguishers are kept in the bus,” said another school representative who attended the meeting.

At the meeting, the transport officials also sought suggestions regarding the experience of drivers who would be eligible to drive the school vehicles. “We have said five years’ minimum experience is needed and also suggested that vehicles which have seen upto 15 years of service can be used,” said Mr.Nandakumar.

J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers' Association, said that the transport department should strictly implement the rules. “It should not remain on paper,” he said.

More In: Chennai