PUNE: The first action of the year by Regional Transport Office (RTO) against school buses without proper fitness certificates and permit to ply on roads started on Tuesday. The authority has formed three teams to take action against those flouting norms. However, the school bus federation claims that RTO has not provided adequate fitness test tracks and to hide this, they are taking this action.
Strict action was initiated across the city by three squads deployed by RTO, which include one motor vehicle inspector each. The squads have now issued memos to transporters, instructing them to produce relevant documents and meet mandatory provisions, without which they will not be allowed to ferry children to school.
The RTO has repeatedly told transporters to abide by safety norms and obtain fitness certificates, for which vehicles have to be brought to the RTO for inspection. Till Tuesday evening, only five buses were found violating the norms.
A senior officer of the RTO said, "The action started from Tuesday and it will continue till Thursday. The detained vehicles will not be allowed to ferry children to schools till the norms are met. It is not difficult for transporters to comply with the norms. Some have already shown willingness to produce documents at the earliest."
Meanwhile, he said some violators were found ferrying children to schools in private vehicles. The transporters are not supposed to use private vehicles for school transport. When questioned, the transporters claimed the school administrations were hesitating to sign a contract with transporters pertaining to school transport. In fact, signing a contract is mandatory for both the transporter and the school. Transporters claimed that non-cooperation from schools was stopping them from obtaining school permits.
However, the school bus federation has said that RTO has not provided them with a fitness test track and they are hiding the truth.
"Around 5,500 school buses are on the waiting list to pass the fitness test. There is only one testing track at Dive and two more were started from Sunday. But, is it sufficient to clear all pending appointments? We are continuously asking RTO to provide us with the facility, but they don't," said a member of school federation bus, on the condition of anonymity.