Community Development Education

PAZ urges safety as schools open

Bus termini

Zimbabwean schools open for the first term of 2019 tomorrow and many students will be travelling to boarding schools. Most schools have own buses and others do not. The Passenger Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) is encouraging boarding schools that do not have own buses to hire road worthy buses that have passenger liability cover.

“We are calling upon all boarding and day schools to insure their buses. Passenger liability cover is a necessity. In the event of an accident students and staff will be assured of compensation. According to our observation, there are many school buses that do not have passenger liability cover,” PAZ said in a statement.

The number of primary and secondary students that are commuting to school has increased mainly due to new satellite settlements that have come into existence in Harare and other cities and towns. These new suburbs do not have enough schools to cater for the student populations.

A large number of the students who commute from the new settlements are using pirate taxis that do not have fitness certificates, road authority, council discs and passenger liability cover. Some of the drivers have no drivers licences and they flout most of the road rules and regulations. Children will be squeezed in the pirate taxi and usually they sit on each other’s laps. This is a high level of risk and endangerment of children lives. Even ECD and crèches students are not spared.

“We are therefore calling on parents to prioritise the safety of their children, who commute daily to school. If they are not ferried by school buses at least they must ensure that their children use registered public service vehicles.

“Students who commute especially ECD and primary must have name tags or school IDs as well as written contact details of their parents, including cell numbers and home addresses on their person. This is essential in the event of an accident or a child getting lost. The safety of a child cannot be over emphasised,PAZ said.

The organisation is calling for all schools to have transport policies in place whether they have their own buses or not.

“A transport policy guides them on the safe transportation of their students and staff. It will help ensure the hiring of transport operators that are compliant. This will ensure that the bus driver is competent and that he and the hired bus have all the requirements. Even where the school has its own bus or buses the transport policy will help provide guidance on the qualifications of the driver and ensuring that safety standards for the bus are met.

“Many students have tragically lost their lives to accidents in the past and more often than not these accidents could have been avoided and lives saved. So, parents, schools, enforcement agencies and the government through the Ministry of Education must do all they can to save the lives of innocent students. On our part as Passengers Association of Zimbabwe, we will be focusing on the road safety of students and children throughout the year and those willing to work with us are free to contact us. We will also be focusing on stopping violence against women in public transport.”

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende