The District Chief Executive (DCE) of Atwima Kwanwoma in the Ashanti Region, Nana Okyere Tawiah Antwi, has ordered that no rickety vehicle should serve as a school bus in his district, effective next month when schools re-open.
The DCE’s concern stems from the fact that road safety, which has implications on public health, human resources and national development, is a priority of the country’s development agenda and must be sustained in whatever way possible.
Last Tuesday, while meeting with proprietors of private schools in the district, the DCE bemoaned that most of the school buses were in bad conditions, and ordered that all such vehicles would have to be brought to the District Assembly for inspection by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
He warned the proprietors of private schools to put their rickety school buses in order before schools resume in January. Those which cannot meet this requirement would be sanctioned, and barred from being used to carry the children.
The meeting was a function of the DCE’s previous experience, when he once came across school children in a broken down school bus around 7pm, and wondered if the proprietor cared about the safety of the kids.
In most cases, vehicles called buses and used to convey children to and from schools, are nothing but deathtraps, and the least said about them, the better.
It would, therefore, not be out of place if the DCE’s directive is implemented fully to the letter, and have tyres, batteries and electrical fittings of such buses inspected and certificated during the exercise, in an effort to ensure the safety of school children.
The good news is that Nana Okyere Tawiah Antwi wants this exercise to be sustained, and indicated that the inspection of school buses in this district by the DVLA would be carried out every three months.
Just as the Chairman of the Private Schools Association in the district, Mr. Alexander Adu Berko, commended the DCE for initiating the move, The Chronicle cannot, but commend the DCE, as a politician, for this one big and bold step in prevailing on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority to go into action.
Other metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) could emulate the shining of example Nana Okyere Tawiah Antwi, and complement the efforts of the DVLA and the Ghana National Road Safety Commission (GNRSC) to ensure the safety of all on the roads.
We see the directive as timely and want to stress that it is about time proprietors of schools do not take the safety of school children for granted, at the expense of parents whose toil butters their (proprietors) bread.
The fact is, there is the need to develop the mental attitude and harness all available resources and the will power to reduce and prevent road accidents, thereby contributing positively to a safe, accessible and reliable transportation system for all categories of road users, including school children.
In this regard, the DVLA, established in 1999 by an Act of Parliament (Act 569), should see to it that regulations and several provisions in the Act are complied with by vehicle owners, including proprietors of schools and motorists, to improve service delivery, and by extension road safety.
We also want to encourage the DVLA and GNRSC to go beyond school buses and inspect the road worthiness of all vehicles in whichever exercise they may deem appropriate.