As schools reopen in Andhra Pradesh, the state’s Road Transport Departments are taking measures to ensure that all the school buses, ferrying children, have met the fitness standards and received the fitness certification. This certification didn’t happen last year because of the pandemic. In order to have it implemented this year, the Road Transport Office (RTO) officials are putting their best foot forward to ensure all the school buses in Vizag comply with the fitness standards and any school buses that don’t meet the standards will be seized.
In a conversation with Yo! Vizag, Deputy Transport Commissioner, Visakhapatnam District, G C Rajaratnam, elucidates that schools have opened from 16 August 2021, but children’s parents fear to use the school buses because of non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Hence they prefer dropping off their children personally.
Keeping this in view, a meeting with the bus operators and drivers was held last week. With the objective of providing a reliable and safe mode of commute in Vizag, the officials have decided that any school buses without fitness certification are to be seized and not allowed to operate from 1 September 2021. The certification will also ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols such as the use of masks, sanitizers, and physical distancing.
“A special drive is being conducted in several parts of the city like NAD Junction, Maddilapalem, Sabbavaram, Anakapalli, Gajuwaka, Narsipatnam and Gambhiram by the RTO officials. This special drive will concentrate on verifying if the school buses have got the certification. School buses that have not got certified will be seized,” said Mr. Rajaratnam.
As of 12:00 pm on 1 September, one school bus has been seized for not having a Fitness Certificate and plying without a school bus permit. Twelve other buses have been booked on other grounds.
School Bus Fitness Certification Details
The school bus Fitness Certificate (FC) is a continuous exercise that is conducted at the Gambhiram driving track, and RTO centers in Gajuwaka, Anakapalli, and Narsipatnam in Visakhapatnam. This inspection and certification process is being carried out by the Road Transport Department of Andhra Pradesh. The Fitness Certificate is valid only for one year. All school buses must go through the certification exercise every year.
The following are the mandatory terms to meet the fitness certification standards:
- Buses older than 15 years old should not be in use
- The bus driver cabin must be separate. No student must be able to access the drivers’ cabin.
- Each bus must have two emergency exits. A radium sticker must be affixed to identify the exit point even in the dark.
- First aid kit is mandatory
- Driver’s address & contact information must be made available
- Not more than 60 students are permitted to travel on a bus
- Footboard must be set up at configured height prescribed by the RTO
- A fire extinguisher must be placed near the driver’s seat. Each extinguisher should weigh 2 kgs and must have met specified conditions.
- A window must be available at every seat on the bus. The length and width of the window should be 50 to 70 centimeters.
As schools in the district have begun to report Covid-19 cases, this is a good move by the RTO officials to ensure that children reach their respective schools safely.