Abu Dhabi, UAE: The head of the school regulator has demanded zero tolerance for breaking safety rules on school buses.
At an emergency meeting yesterday, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), ordered greater efforts to ensure the safety and security of pupils being driven to school.
Safety on buses is high on the agenda after the case of Nizaha Aalaa, 3, who died on October 7 when she was locked in a school bus outside Al Worood Academy Private School.
“All of us, with no exception, must exert intensive effort in order to ensure the level of security and safety which prevents the occurrence of any unfortunate incidents,” Dr Al Qubaisi said.
She said she had a “strong commitment to ensuring that all the relevant entities carry out their regulatory and supervisory responsibilities to make sure that all school transport safety measures are duly respected and violators are punished”.
Dr Al Qubaisi also stressed the “vital and important role and responsibility of the community, parents and students in raising awareness about safety procedures, and reporting any violations that may pose a risk to students”.
The school transport executive committee meeting was attended by senior officials from the Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Media – publisher of The National – the General Secretariat of the Executive Council, and Emirates Transport.
“We are rigorously working to monitor and supervise the commitment of school transport operators and supervisors in applying all the security and safety measures in order to reassure parents of their children’s safety,” said Brig Gen Hussein Al Harthi, head of Abu Dhabi traffic police.
“Moreover, we are taking into account the need for intensive and active collaboration with all government and community-concerned parties.”
Brig Al Harthi also stressed “the importance of having competent, qualified and well-trained supervisors who are familiar with the safety procedures, and are fully aware of their exact responsibilities while accompanying the students”.
Mohammed Al Jarman, general manager of Emirates Transport, which has a fleet of more than 4,000 vehicles serving public schools, welcomed Dr Al Qubaisi’s call for stricter measures.
“We stress that we will not spare any effort in pursuing this objective,” Mr Al Jarman said.
The committee recently issued a ban on minibuses and microbuses carrying pupils because of safety concerns. It also carries out regular school inspections to monitor the buses.
Banan Ali, a mother of two children who are driven by bus to school and home, praised the calls for improved safety measures.
“They should have training for them,” said Mrs Ali.
“Why don’t they hire qualified people to make buses safe for kids?”
She also suggested seating younger children at the front of the bus where they could be better monitored by attendants, and said all parties should be held accountable the children’s safety.
© The National