In a bizarre incident, a young girl died in Chennai on Wednesday after she fell from a hole on the floor of her school bus, in Mudichur area near Tambaram.
Six-year-old Shruti was returning home in the bus. She wasn't standing on the footboard or peering out of the window. The bus was so badly maintained that the floor which already had some patch work caved in. Shruti fell down and was run over.
"Shouldn't the Principal have checked the condition of the bus? What kind of dreams the parents would have had," said the victim's neighbour.
The private school management has washed its hands off. It claims the bus was hired on contract, but transport authorities say the bus is registered in the name of the school. The police are investigating the case and have arrested the driver.
Angry eyewitnesses set the school bus on fire. "Whoever had given fitness certificate to this bus has to be immediately punished," said an eyewitness.
This tragedy raises several questions on the safety of our school buses and the credibility of the fitness certificates issued by transport authorities.
For many schools, buses and vans are a major source of revenue. Many use old vehicles or rope in third parties to cut corners or line their pockets. Often, these vehicles are also overloaded. Sadly, neither schools nor road transport authorities seem to take the safety of children seriously.