Worried by the dilapidated nature of school buses used in conveying pupils and the safety of children in Rivers State, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has given schools or operators of such buses up to September, 2012, to either upgrade them or have them impounded.
The Commander, Zone 6 of FRSC, Mr. Yakubu Attah, gave the ultimatum on Friday in Port Harcourt during a one day sensitization workshop for school bus operators in the state.
According to the Zonal Commander, a situation where school children are being conveyed in rickety vehicles to school in an unsafe environment can no longer be tolerated.
He warned that after the expiration of the deadline, schools that fail to meet the guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council will have themselves to blame.
Attah however advised owners of school buses to strive to comply with the directive in the interest of the children whose lives he said, are being endangered on daily basis.
In his speech at the event, the Sector Commander, Rivers State, Dr. Kayode Olagunju, reiterated the need for all to protect the children. He regretted the fact that many school children have been lost to avoidable road accidents, pointing out that children by law are not supposed to sit alone in the front of any vehicle.
He accused most drivers entrusted with the care of children as not being trustworthy.
Delivering his lecture, Mr. Odoyor Hamilton, an Assistant Corps Commander, said the guideline covers both the personnel and the operations.
He emphasized the need for a school bus driver to be assisted by another qualified (assistant) driver.
Hamilton explained that the schools are at liberty to choose any of the five classes of the approved buses which he said comprises 18 to 72 seaters, with the color of yellow and white stripes painted on the buses.
The lecturer told the gathering that eye and other medical tests are compulsory for school bus drivers who must not have criminal records.
During the question and answer session, participants frowned at the time frame and cost for the implementation of the guideline, appealing for more time.
– Barth Ndu