The annual inspection of school buses for safety and other regulatory norms began at the Armed Reserve Police Grounds on Friday.
Out of the 85 school buses that came seeking approval, three were rejected on the basis that they did not have GPS systems or CCTV cameras as mandated by the State government.
A total of 986 school buses run under the Madurai Central, North and South RTOs in the district. The officials said, 85 of them had come for inspection on Friday that took place in the presence of Collector S. Aneesh Sekhar, Superintendent of Police V. Baskaran, Chief Educational Officer R. Swaminathan and Joint Transport Commissioner Madurai Pon Senthilnathan.
Speaking to reporters, Dr. Aneesh Sekhar said, “As schools have been opened only for classes 9-12, some of the buses alone have come for the inspection. These buses that already have FC (fitness certificate), are being checked for safety regulations. Once they qualify, they will be given a sticker denoting “approval”. When they don’t qualify, notices will be given.” He also said that the school buses must be run only with a 50 % occupancy and no one should travel by standing.
The buses were inspected for safety, based on regulations that were categorised into 22 points. S Selvam, RTO, Madurai North, said, “The buses need to have an emergency exit at the rear right side or at the rear wind screen, measuring a minimum of 150 cm x 120 cm, with a quick release latches mechanism that can be operated from the inside and outside of the vehicle. The CCTV camera and GPS system in working conditions are mandatory. There should be a partition between the driver’s seat and the other occupants. We will check the buses for all the 22 points,” he added.
R. Chitra, RTO, Madurai Central, said that the inspections for the remaining buses will continue in the respective RTO offices. “Since most of the school buses have not been in use during the pandemic, the institutions need to make sure they are in a good condition, before bringing them for approval,” she shared.
Mr. Pon Senthilnathan asked school bus drivers in the district to take good care of their physical and mental health as they were responsible for the safety of many students, while addressing a group of school bus drivers about guidelines and protocols to be followed inside the buses, before undertaking inspections of the vehicle at the AR Grounds.
Mr. Pon. Senthilnathan said, “When it comes to students’ safety in the bus, the major responsibility lies with you and the way you drive. Always prioritize safety. Never be overconfident. Give importance to physical and mental health. If something is stressing you out, please free yourself from it before getting into the bus.”
Mr. Swaminathan, who was also present, said that vaccination was mandatory for all drivers and conductors. If someone is not vaccinated yet, they need to get it done immediately. The drivers were also instructed to wear masks regularly and ensure physical distancing inside the buses.
The RTOs that were present asked them to regularly take health check-ups, if they had conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure and inform their school management immediately.
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