Provisions ensuring safety measures on school buses need to be introduced, and the ministries of transport and education need to work together to ensure it happens, commissioner for children’s rights Leda Koursoumba said on Wednesday.
Her comments follow several complaints made by concerned parents in Larnaca and news articles highlighting instances where buses had broken seats leaving children to stand, no seatbelts, drivers turning corners very quickly, water leaking into buses during the winter and child minders unable to look after the younger students who mingled with the older ones on the bus.
In a report sent to the ministries and House committees for transport and education and the Larnaca bus company Zenon, Koursoumba outlined that tenders called for buses must cover the needs of all students age groups.
If for instance a bidding company does not have an adequate enough number of buses to meet the conditions of the tender, they should not be selected. Under no circumstances must student safety be discounted, she said.
Additionally, the education ministry is responsible for ensuring a child minder is present to look after younger children, Koursoumba said.
Under no circumstances should older students looking after the younger ones be deemed a suitable safety measure, the report said.
Koursoumba added binding terms needed to be included in the contracts with the bus companies to comply with appropriate safety standards.
While the commissioner was investigating various complaints, responses were received from both ministries of transport and education but none from Zenon bus company in Larnaca, which has recently received cabinet approval to bring in new buses for its fleet.