The Police have warned private school operators against overloading school children in buses.
Superintendent Stephen Tenkorang, the Bono Regional Commander of the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MMTD) gave the warning when he was speaking at a stakeholders meeting on Monday in Sunyani.
He stated schools which disregarded the warning would be made to face the full rigours of the law, saying the Police had overlooked, and would no longer tolerate schools which used over-aged buses to convey and risk the lives of children.
Supt. Tenkorang stressed private schools had no justification to use “over-aged buses to overload” children as much as they were operating profitable businesses.
Madam Justina Owusu-Banahene, the Bono Regional Minister organised the meeting in the wake of the gory accident which happened on the Terchire-Adrobaa road in the Ahafo Region on Friday, November 11, which left five school children dead.
It was attended by representatives of the Ghana National Association of Private Schools, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Ghana Journalists Association, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“In as much as you are pleading that we consider you, you must also do the right thing. A school bus can take about 40 children when it is supposed to take 20, and this is unacceptable.
“A school bus recently ran over a pupil and we just took the school itself and the driver to court just last week. The driver has no license and so the parents cannot apply for insurance, so if there is anything it is the school that must bear the liability”, Supt. Tenkorang stated.
He regretted though some of the buses might have road worthy certificates, “as soon as you see the buses you can see that they are rickety that to me any rational human being should not even allow the ward to board such buses”.
“We cannot sit down for something to happen for the people to blame the Police, so, please we beg you to do the right thing for all of us would be free. Sometimes if the excesses are not too much at least we are human beings and we can see”, he said.
Mad. Owusu-Banahene also appealed to the private schools to collaborate with parents, support each other to ensure that the precious lives of innocent school children would be protected.
She advised private schools operators to endeavour to engage professional and licensed drivers, and commended the MTTD for their efforts to bring sanity on the road.
Dr. Prince Quarshie, the Acting Deputy Director in-charge of Public Health at the Bono Regional Directorate of Health, noted over-loading of school children in buses was risky because “whenever there is an infection, it could easily spread among the children”.
“The greatest risk is about communicable diseases, especially the flu. When the children are so close and one of them has any of these communicable diseases, the others are likely to pick it up”, he said.
“So, in terms of health it is not good that these children would be over-crowded in buses or any transport”, he added.