With the strike called by the School Bus Operators Welfare Association beginning on Friday,the city stood witness to traffic chaos outside schools,harassed parents and a marginally low attendance in various schools.
And with the Administration and bus operators at loggerheads over the increase in permit fee,parents and their wards bore the maximum brunt of the stir.
I stay in Panchkula and my son studies in Chandigarh. Though I dropped him to school after a nearly one-hour ride today,it will not be possible to do it every day. The Administration and bus operators should settle the issue at the earliest, said Pankaj Varmani,a parent.
For another parent Ankita Sood,the strike has created more than one problem. Dropping my daughter to school and then rushing to office was difficult. As my office hours clash with her school timings,my husband had to take a half-day leave to pick her up, said Sood. Other parents also faced a tough time balancing office hours with their childrens school timings. I got late for office by an hour today and cannot afford it every day, said Vivek Gogia,another parent.
With no school bus on roads to ferry children,more cars were seen outside schools like Bhavan Vidyalaya and St Johns in Sector 26. And with no proper traffic management in place,the result was choked traffic in the morning hours.
Apart from failing to provide us with alternate arrangements,the Administration has also failed to regulate traffic outside schools, said Dheeraj Chawla,another parent.
School authorities,on the other hand,expressed their helplessness on the issue. We were unable to make alternate arrangements for the huge number of students. The best we could do was to inform parents about the strike, said H S Mamik,director,Vivek High School.
In a press conference,the School Bus Operators Association,meanwhile,asserted that buses would continue to be off roads till their demands were met. Our demands are justified. It is not right to increase the permit fee so exorbitantly. The strike will continue till the Administration takes into consideration our demands, said Manit Singh Saini,president of the association.
Forum says withdraw strike,bus operators to move HC
In response to a complaint filed by the Chandigarh Administration against the president of Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association,the District Consumer Forum directed all bus operators to immediately withdraw their strike. Parents have already made advance payments to private bus operators,who are legally bound to provide services to them. Not providing the same amounts to deficiency in service which has subjected nearly 80,000 students to mental and physical harassment, said president of the forum Jadroop Singh Mahal. Passing the order,the forum made use of the provisions of Consumer Protection Act,which allow the Central government or any state government to be the complainant in appropriate cases. The association,however,has decided to challenge the forums orders in the high court.
Car pool is the way to go
With buses off the road and traffic bottlenecks around schools,parents opted for car pool to minimise harassment.I dropped my daughter at Bhavan Vidyalya,Sector 27,and my friends sons at St Johns in the morning. My friend dropped my daughter home in the afternoon, said Harish Jindal,a resident of Panchkula. Another parent,Raman Mehta,added: I dropped my neighbours daughter to school in the morning. He returned the favour in the afternoon.