Road unfit: Van drivers, fitness dept risk lives of students

May 29, 2013 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: No parents have ever thought that on return from school their child would be burnt alive, just because of carelessness from government departments and van drivers.

However, these incidents unfortunately happen, rather frequently, in our country and this time it was in Gujrat, where 16 children and a female school teacher were burnt alive.

The heartrending school van fire incident in Gujrat not only broke many into tears across the city but also across the country. But despite of these incidents, these moving bombs are busy in transporting pupils.

Azhar Hussain, a van driver outside Karachi Public School, near Karachi airport, admitted that most of the van drivers either don’t have fitness certificate or their certificates had expired.

“Most of them are not professional transporters instead they have been doing this to earn extra money,” he said adding that majority even don’t possess driving licenses.

He revealed that most of the van drivers were using oxygen cylinders instead of Compressed Natural Gas CNG cylinders. “These cylinders were put at the back seat of the van which is extremely dangerous.”

Ms Chauglay, a senior teacher of the school, said that the school was not responsible for the transport but despite of that they were working to create awareness among the drivers in order to avoid any mishap.

When contacted over the issue, All Private School Management Association, Sindh Chairman Syed Khalid Shah suggested that all school vans must be run on petrol instead of CNG.

“Our association will organize two meetings in August after summer vacations, one for the school administration and other for transporters, to aware them regarding the threat posed by the cylinders.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the condition of anonymity, a police sub inspector posted at Motor Vehicle Inspection MVI Office, Baldia Town, said that there was lot of corruption in fitness certificate process.

“When you enter from the gate, you will have to pay Rs 2050 then during the inspection, the traffic police officials receive Rs 800 to 1500 bribe from the vehicle owner,” he said.

Akhter Munir, a traffic police sergeant stationed at the edge of Native Jetty Bridge, said that there is Rs 2000 challan for vehicles that either have expired fitness certificates or don’t have it altogether.

When contacted, SSP Motor MVI Shamim Aara Pahnwar refuted the charges of bribery in her department but conceded that she had also received some reports of illegal fitness certificates. “We are mulling over to launch a software which would help in eliminating the illegal certificates,” she said.

She said that a meeting of stakeholders including police, traffic police, school associations and others was held at Education Department of Sindh, where the authorities had directed to take stern action against all those responsible for risking lives.

“I am of the opinion that the government should limit age of vehicles from six years to nine years in order to avoid Gujrat-type incidents.”

The parents, teachers and students demand that the government, its subordinate departments, school associations and van drivers should realize their responsibilities to ensure no repetitions of mishaps like Gujrat school van tragedy in future.