Parents, transport operators speak up after 6-year-old's death in bus in Dubai


School transport services have qualified drivers and attendants who assist and ensure the safety of students.- Supplied photo
School transport services have qualified drivers and attendants who assist and ensure the safety of students.- Supplied photo

Dubai - The RTA had launched the smart system for the remote monitoring of school buses in October last year.


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Tue 18 Jun 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Jun 2019, 9:45 PM

Road safety experts, concerned parents and school transport operators are calling for increased safety measures following the recent tragic death of a six-year-old boy forgotten inside a bus.
They also believe that children should only be transported in regulated school buses, as these are better equipped than regular buses, and managed by trained drivers and staff.
Mohamed Farhan Faisal, student at an Islamic centre in Al Quoz, had dozed off after boarding the bus from Karama and was left behind when all the other students disembarked outside the centre at 8:00am. His body was found seven hours after he was locked inside the bus.
Filipino parent Yuri Cipriano told Khaleej Times: "As a father, I would propose that all students must be transported only using certified school buses, whether they are going to school or attending out-of-school activities.
"School transport services have qualified drivers and attendants who assist and ensure the safety of students," he added.
Some parents have noted that the bus that carried the six-year-old boy on Saturday (June 15) was not a school transport and not regulated by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). His death could have been prevented if the RTA safety measures were followed.
Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, said that there are "literally hundreds or thousands of school buses that can be used during weekends for children's activities".
"The authorities should use proper school buses whenever students are transported, because these are the safest mode of transport available for our children," Edelmann noted.
"We have trained and qualified school bus drivers to take care of their passengers. Every time they reach their destination, they would automatically inspect the bus from the front to the end to ensure that no one is left behind," Edelmann explained.
"Many institutions do not have their own buses and the best option for them is to rent school buses for their classes or events," he underlined.
Shailesh Dash, chairman of Gulf Pinnacle Logistics - the parent company of Gulf Pinnacle Transport, told Khaleej Times that student safety is their paramount interest.
"Apart from consistently improving on technology to live-track the buses transporting students, since inception in 2016, we periodically train our drivers and bus attendants on student safety, post-trip mandatory inspection, and added a technology feature of "no student left on board". This gives us an automatic alert if there is any movement in bus after a trip is finished and an SOS button to notify the operations team in case there is any emergency on the bus," Dash noted.
Meanwhile, the RTA launched in October last year the smart system for the remote monitoring of school buses. It also deployed 368 smart buses to transport students in 17 schools for the present academic year.
The 'environment-friendly' buses are fitted with safety and security features such as surveillance cameras that are connected to the RTA's control centre to monitor students' movement while sitting and alighting from buses.
New technologies have also been added to the school bus fleet and the engine switch off button is placed at the rear end of the bus behind the seats so the driver is obliged to walk through up to the end of the bus to stop the engine, thereby ensuring that no student is left behind on the bus before the doors are locked.
The RTA, through the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC), the operator of the school bus services, has also launched a smart app called 'DTC School Bus' to enable parents to track the movement of their children's journey from and to the school.
According to the RTA, a notification is sent to parents about the time their children board or alight from buses in their shuttle between schools and homes.
Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of the RTA's Public Transport Agency, said the authority has also installed smart cameras, hi-tech communication devices and sensors in the interior and exterior of school buses.
"The step will enhance the safety of students as well as roads and vehicles near school buses. The system will also monitor the conduct of drivers, attendants and students onboard while the bus is in motion," he added.
Moreover, the smart system will automatically record three traffic offences, including overtaking the school bus from both sides when the stop sign is opened, lack of buckling up the safety belt by the driver or riders, and failing to leave a sufficient distance between the bus and other vehicles.
New safety standards for Islamic centres
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has confirmed on Tuesday (June 18) that the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) in Dubai has decided to apply new procedures on safety standards regarding the transportation of students to Islamic centres in the emirate.
In a report published by an Arabic daily, Dr Omar Al Khatib, executive director for Islamic Affairs at IACAD, said: "We have collaborated with the RTA to oblige the buses in the emirate to implement all school transport standards. A circular will be issued within days to the centres to inform them of the procedures and requirements."
Al Khatib revealed that among the new requirements for the bus is a well-trained supervisor to be present with the students on the bus.
"The supervisor should help the students when crossing the street and make sure that they are delivered to their families safely. Supervisors should also make sure that the bus is free of students after reaching the final stations, in addition to speed when dealing with emergency cases and contacting authorities to take the necessary action," he said.
He also pointed out that each bus must contain a cooling system to a temperature not exceeding 24 degrees Celsius, and that the bus should contain a first aid kit that fits the number of seats.
Al Khatib said if Islamic centres in Dubai do not comply with the new requirements and procedures, penalties issued by the department will be implemented. They will start with a warning, then written letter and fines, and up to a revoke of the licence and the closure of the centre or institution. The penalty shall be gradually implemented according to the size of the offence.
(With inputs from Farah Ahmed)

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