UAE school bus tragedy: Parents call for trained supervisors on board

Bus operators had earlier indicated a shortage of trained support staff as many were laid off due to the pandemic.



File photo
File photo
by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 17 Feb 2022, 4:46 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Feb 2022, 10:28 PM

Parents have been strongly calling upon schools and bus transport companies to have more trained supervisors on school buses.

This comes in the wake of the recent demise of a 12-year-old girl in Ajman who was run over by her own school bus that dropped her.

The driver who apparently did not see the girl crossing the road has been arrested and investigations revealed that there was no supervisor on board.

Meanwhile, parents aver this incident is a ‘wake-up call’ and merits high importance as it pertains to children’s safety.

Filipino expat in the UAE, Ben Lebig says, “Although, we don’t hear of such incidents in Dubai and such tragedies involving school buses are generally rare in the UAE but nonetheless, this incident is shocking. I also have a 12-year-old daughter and she travels by her school bus every day. It’s a 15km drive from our house in Silicon Oasis to her school but obviously it takes over an hour as children need to be picked up and dropped off. But the role of the supervisors is important as whenever there has been a delay in pick up or drop off, it’s the supervisor who is called. She receives calls or informs us as to why the delay is happening. The driver cannot covey messages as he is driving.”

“Therefore, the role of the supervisor is crucial because when such situations arise, at least parents feel comforted, and they know what the reason for the delay is. Once the child reaches the school, it’s the school’s responsibility. But while covering the distance between the home and the school it is important for parents to be assured that their child is safe and is taken care of. So, the role of the bus supervisor is one of responsibility and it’s imperative that school buses have trained supervisors who are aware of the responsibility of their role in safeguarding children,” adds Lebig.

Bus attendants are also important as there have been instances in the past in 2019 and 2014 where children who had fallen asleep in the school bus, remained locked in the bus for long hours eventually resulting in their deaths.

French national Gabrielle Monet says, “my six-year-old son travels by the school bus daily as both me and my husband are working, and we can’t drop our child to school. If there are no attendants then who will help younger kids like my son who are in Year 1 and other children like him who are either his age or younger than him in KG classes, board or alight the bus? We depend on the attendants heavily as they are also the ones who help the children cross the streets and hand them over to parents or house helps who are waiting for them at home.”

School bus operators had earlier indicated a shortage of trained support staff as many were laid off due to the pandemic.

But over the months they have been working with schools to resolve the issue to ensure the safety of students travelling by school buses.

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School bus drivers are required to display the “stop” signs when picking up or dropping off students. The penalty for not displaying the sign is Dh500 and six black points.

Indian expat, Farheen Matheranwala opines, “It is heart-breaking that a little soul lost its life because of the driver's misjudgment. It is important the schools have accurate guidelines in place while choosing transportation companies and verify the profiles of drivers. Also, having a supervisor on board will make the process seamless and ensure that students are in good care. These supervisors should also be available to help children cross the roads, and ensure they are in safe company.”


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