Chennai: School students and office goers in the city had a harrowing time on Tuesday, as private vans in the city went off roads to protest against the heightened scrutiny of their vehicles by officials of transport department. Private vans are being subjected to intensified checking, following the death of a seven-year-old girl who slipped through the hole on a school van’s floor a fortnight ago. Of the 50,000 private vans running in Tamil Nadu, Chennai alone accounts for 9,000, transporting several thousands of students between schools and homes everyday.
Even as private vans demanded an increase in the number of children allowed in each van and a decrease in the tax amount, frustrated parents rushed to find ways to get their children to school on Tuesday morning. Selvi Jesudhas, mother of a class I student of an Adayar school, says that she was informed of the strike only at 9 PM on Monday. “My husband had to drop off our son at school in the morning,” she says. To bring the kids back home was another problem, as in many cases, both parents are working. Selvi said, “Along with other parents who live close to our house in Adambakkam, we planned a car-pool. So I also picked up two other kids from school and dropped them home.”
The strike offered an impromptu holiday for some kids whose parents kept them home. Meanwhile, private van drivers have withdrawn their strike, following a meeting with the Transport Commissioner T Prabhakara Rao. According to Benjamin, general secretary of Confederation of Tamil Nadu Schools Private Vans Welfare Association, the authorities were briefed about their problems. “We urged them to allow the maxi vans engaged only for school kids to carry 24 children,” he said.
Private vans in the city went off roads to protest against the heightened scrutiny of their vehicles.