AN overloaded school van plies on Warsak Road, Peshawar. — Dawn
AN overloaded school van plies on Warsak Road, Peshawar. — Dawn

Rahat Ali, 56, a resident of Peshawar Sarband locality, is father of six children, five being daughters and one son, and works in a factory in Hayatabad industrial area.

His only son Jawad Ali is studying in a private school, which is four kilometres away from his home. Poor Rahat Ali used to pay to a school van driver in addition to heavy tuition was one day informed by his wife that the school van suffered an accident on its way back from school.

“I was busy in my work in the factory and was shocked to know about the incident. I rushed to the local hospital where my son and other seven schoolchildren were lying on beds and doctors were providing medical treatment to them. The children had their hands and legs fractured and got their flower-like faces bruised,” he said.

He recalled that Jawad Ali too had his right leg fractured and the reason behind the accident was reckless driving and overloading of the school van.

Mr Ali said that it took six months for his son to get recovered. He said that he was still to repay the money he had borrowed for the treatment of his son. The worst aspect of the incident, he added, was that his son stopped going to school and the driver was still at large.

Official says parents, school heads and traffic police can resolve the issue by joining hands

“My dream for my son to become a doctor in future was shattered forever. Thanks God, at least he survived but later I was informed that one child was succumbed to serious head injuries,” said.

There are a few careful parents, who have a vigilant eye on every moment of their children and take upon themselves a routine responsibility to pick and drop them and never hand them over to their drivers and watchmen. Such parents regularly pay visits to their schools.

Mr Ali said that parents should not have a blind faith in school van drivers and in home servants either. “Where the traffic police have gone? Don’t they see sheer violation of traffic rules that could cause an untoward big accident any time,” he questioned.

Haleema Shirazi, 45, a housewife, gets up early in the morning and prepares her two children for taking them to a private school located on Warsak Road. She daily goes along with her children in a rickshaw she has hired and does not want to take risk by allowing them to be picked and dropped by a van driver.

“When I observed the irresponsible attitude of school van drivers, I determined that I would do this job myself. The unfortunate thing is that most parents don’t have time for pick and drop for their children. They hand them over to school bus, van or rickshaw drivers with a blind faith that they would take care of their children which is in fact not the case,” said Ms Shirazi.

In some cases, she said, the responsibility of pick and drop of schoolchildren was shifted to home drivers and even watchmen and then the situation became even more aggravated as children could face several kinds of harassments.

“I don’t trust school van drivers though it is very difficult for me being a housewife yet I believe small children require care and attention till they become mature to differentiate between right and wrong and also safeguard themselves against various threats,” she observed.

It is a common sight almost everywhere whether city or village that speedy and overloaded school vans carry students and mostly children hang up with its shafts and rear parts with nobody giving attention to such a life threatening phenomenon. Often such things go unabated unless an accident strikes the families, the unfortunate parents.

Students are packed and stuffed in the school vehicles without any safety measures and the children, finding no place inside the vans, resort to hang along the side and rear parts of the vans putting their life in danger in sheer violation of traffic rules.

A large number of divers make students to sit on roofs of their vans to mint more money without care for traffic rules or the precious lives of the innocent children.

Most vans and rickshaw drivers, much to the ignorance of parents, load on their vehicles children to schools beyond their capacity and risk their lives.

The accidents when occur due to such stupidities, mostly end in blame game without holding anyone responsible and worst thing is that traffic police remain as silent spectator and the unfortunate parents are left with no one to turn to while the best they could do is to mourn the death of their beloved ones.

A senior police official, when contacted, told this scribe on condition of anonymity that his department had deputed a lady police officer to brief school heads and children on traffic rules and transport safety measures. He said that the campaign had almost covered both government and private schools in and around the provincial metropolis.

He said that according to the court orders , traffic officials didn’t allow school van and rickshaw drivers to even stake bags of children on roofs of their vehicles.

“We at times take care not to drag a school van violating the rules to the police station to avoid the children being scared and later impound the vehicle. Every now and then our department raids busy roads during morning and school closing hours to check overloading vehicles, especially those carrying schoolchildren. The troika of parents, school administration and traffic police could bring an end to the issue,” said the official.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Kindness needed
20 Jun, 2024

Kindness needed

TODAY, on World Refugee Day, we pause to reflect on the many challenges faced by refugees across the globe. From...
Fitch’s budget note
20 Jun, 2024

Fitch’s budget note

PAKISTAN’S ongoing economic crisis is multifaceted. At one end, the government must pursue stabilisation policies...
Cruelty to animals
20 Jun, 2024

Cruelty to animals

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first...
Price bombs
Updated 18 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

It just wants to take the easy route and enjoy the ride for however long it is in power.
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
Updated 19 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

The staggering rejection rates underscore systemic biases in the largely non-transparent visa approval process.