‘Very few have subjected their fleets for fitness tests’
With schools set to reopen next week in the State after 18 months, only a fraction of them have expressed willingness to subject their bus fleets for fitness tests.
Transport Minister Antony Raju, while replying to questions on the preparedness of the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) for school reopening in the Assembly on Tuesday, pointed out only 2,828 out of the 22,718 school buses in the State registered for the mandatory inspection as of October 15. Fitness certificates have been issued for 1,628 buses so far, he said.
Elaborating on the ‘students transportation protocol’ released by the Transport Department, Mr. Raju said all buses to ferry students must be equipped with thermal scanners and hand sanitisers. Students will be permitted entry after only recording their temperatures and recording their details on a register. As part of enforcing physical distancing, only one child will be allowed to occupy a seat.
While many legislators feared the restriction and the schools’ reluctance could lead to a shortage of buses, Mr. Raju said KSRTC will operate services as much as possible to overcome the situation.
Nearly 1,000 schools have evinced interest in the public utility’s Bus on Demand (BOND) services for which reasonable rates will soon be fixed on the basis of the bus routes.
While KSRTC currently plied 3,300 buses, another 650 buses will be operationalised on November 15 to ease travel woes. Its workshops across the State have now commenced maintenance and repair of school and college buses that have remained idle for several months, the Minister said.
He added that the MVD would take stringent action against private buses that deny concessions for students.
Encouraging school managements to ply buses, the Government has decided exempt school buses from paying vehicle tax for the period from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. Besides, the deadline for paying the tax for the third quarter has been extended to December 31.
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