Published: 28th October 2021
Why are Andhra Pradesh's school buses sluggish about getting back on track?
Out of the 25,236 buses in the state, only about 6,444 have managed to renew their Fitness Certificate even two months after schools reopened. The deadline of October 31 looms large
Buses in Andhra Pradesh are facing a bit of a crisis. Out of the 25,236 buses operated by various educational institutions in the State, a paltry one-fourth portion of these, have been issued with a Fitness Certificate (FC) by the Road Transport Office (RTO) of the state. Even though the schools in the state reopened over two months ago, only 6,444 buses have so far managed to meet the deadline of October 31 to get their certification.
The situation is such that in some districts, officials have had to undertake enforcement drives in order to bring the buses up to speed. In East Godavari for instance, out of the 3,482 school buses registered, only 382 have acquired the FC. Deputy Transport Commissioner (DTC) M Purendra has said that at the start of every academic year, schools and colleges are required to obtain the FC, insurance documents, permit tax and other clearances before institutes reopen.
In light of the pandemic this year, the Centre had provided exemptions to private educational institutions over the renewal of FCs. “This academic year, several institutes adopted a wait and watch the policy to restart their bus services as many parents are choosing to drop their kids to schools and colleges by themselves," said Purendra.
There has been no communication from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) on the extension of the deadline to obtain the fresh certificates. The department inspects the buses every year on 32 aspects under rule 185 (G) of AP Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 — such as valid insurance, first-aid kit, fire extinguisher, and emergency doors — and issue the FC only if the vehicles pass them. Also, motor vehicle inspectors personally drive the buses to authenticate their condition.