Mumbai: Parents of city students may need to make alternative transport arrangements on rainy days since certain school bus operators may refuse to transport students on such days.
They claim that the new buses have sensors on them and that the water logging on these roads not only makes it risky for ferrying kids but also makes it more difficult for the owners because of frequent vehicle breakdowns.
Bus owners have now announced that they will take no chances with students and suspend school buses if the roads are flooded after the India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of heavy rain in parts of Maharashtra from July 7 to July 9 and advised citizens to take precautionary measures.
School Bus Owners’ Association (SBOA) president Anil Garg stated, “The new sensors in the buses cannot operate in heavy rains since they will break down the moment water touches their engines. Drivers are also unable to detect large potholes in some areas due to waterlogging, which has resulted in buses getting stuck in these potholes with children on board.” He added that the school should be responsible for asking whether the buses will run or not after the government releases the weather advisory.
“Due to the high cost of these buses compared to the older buses, maintenance costs for buses are four times higher during the monsoon than they are on other days. Also, it poses a heavy risk to children’s lives, too,” he said.
Garg continued, “We have lodged numerous complaints on the BMC’s portal regarding the issue with the roads; all we ever hear from them is that they are looking into it, but ultimately nothing happens.”
Suma Das, principal of Pawar Public School Bhandup, stated that their bus contractor has not yet informed her of any such decision. “The students will face major inconvenience. Even if the forecast was issued two days ago, the bus contractors should have alerted us.”
Anagha Prabhu, principal of Orchids International School, in Borivali West, said, “The BMC should be held accountable for potholes. Waterlogging happens even when it does not rain heavily. However, suspending bus service on such days would be unfair because it would have a significant impact on the school and the students.”
A parent from Pawar Public School in Bhandup said bus owners may also be helpless. “There is no solution to heavy rainfall. If any untoward incident happens, bus owners are blamed. They are not completely wrong in denying service.”
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