Drivers ferrying schoolchildren resent crackdown by police

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Karnataka: The drivers of autorickshaws, maxi-cabs and vans carrying schoolchildren, bearing the brunt of strict enforcement of rules by the police, will submit a memorandum to the district police on Friday.

This was decided at a meeting organised by the Udupi Taximen and Maxicab Association and Ashrayadata Autorickshaw Union at Rajangana here on Thursday, in the backdrop of Wednesday’s accident.

Document seizure

Ramesh Kotian, General Secretary of District Taximen and Maxicab Association, said the police had seized the documents of about 30 maxi-cabs, 25 autorickshaws and 20 Maruti Omni vans carrying schoolchildren for violation of rules.

 Hence, some drivers told parents to make their own arrangements to drop their children. If maxi-cab operators had to appoint conductors for their vehicles, a chunk of their earnings would go only in paying the salaries of conductors, he said. Nagesh, a van driver, said that an operator of an autorickshaw, van and maxi-cab could survive only when they carry eight children in an autorickshaw, 12 children in a van and 24 in a maxi-cab. If this was not possible, then schools themselves should make arrangements to ferry the children, he said.

Ramesh Shetty, President of Ashrayadata Autorickshaw Union, said that government should allow private autorickshaw drivers to put the “school vehicle” board when they were ferrying schoolchildren, then they should be allowed to take off this board and carry on ferrying other passengers. Some van and maxi-cab drivers were sore that private and school buses had the capacity to carry either 35 or 41 persons, but were actually carrying over 100 children. The police turned a blind eye to these buses but were targeting autorickshaws, vans and maxi-cabs. This was unjust, they said.

The former MLA, K. Raghupati Bhat, also President of District Taximen and Maxicab Association, said that all efforts would be made to find a solution to carry children safely in private vehicles within the ambit of rules.

Meanwhile, K. Annamalai, Superintendent of Police, said that the police was only following the rules with regard to ferrying of schoolchildren in private vehicles. The police had also issued notices to school buses for overloading and violation of other rules on Wednesday, he said.

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