The Ghanaian School Bus
Back in Junior Secondary School (now Junior High School), the family moved from the center of Takoradi to the outskirts, the stress of getting to school on a minibus popularly touted as Trotro or a Taxi on days when Mum wanted to be generous every morning, almost ruined your day. Transportation of students by schools was not so popular by then.
Within the last decade, the number of private schools have soared in the country with most of them attempting to provide transport services for student as a means of attracting parents to enroll their kids.
They purport to transport students from the school to their respective homes and vice-versa. Even though there is a charge for every student who subscribe to the service, the relief it provides parents with respect to the hassle of getting a means of transportation for their wards and the opportunity for kids to socialize and form impressions, is very laudable.
One thing that has greatly been ignored is the state of the buses used to transport the school children. The age range of the pupils in a basic school in Ghana ranges between 5 years to 15 years.
Therefore, you would expect some special features to be present on such a bus because of the category of people they commute. What are the basic features of a standard school bus one would ask, the following must be present on a standard school bus to ensure maximum safety and security for pupils.
Size and Colour
The size of a bus is a major factor. The bigger the bus the more space there is in the bus to give more room for maneuvers and movement. Remember that the major occupants are children and they move a lot. Ideally, every school bus should be yellow or yellowish orange in colour. This is to make the buses highly visible during the day and even when the weather changes. Also, the colour makes the inscriptions on the bus very visible especially the emergency number to bystanders. Any bright colour example white can also be used.
Cross View Mirror
Cross view mirror is used when a large vehicle operates in a tight circumstance and it is a critical tool in vehicular safety. They are there for the driver to view the front area of the bus. The little children can go unseen when passing in front of the bus. The cross view mirror, with its extreme wide angle view has the ability to pick up these difficult to see pupils. Children will also like to peep outside through the window and this mirror helps the driver to see them.
There is a special window glass which have additional safety features that make it less likely to break or pose a threat to the vehicle occupants when it breaks. Therefore in unlikely event of accident either by collision or a child accidentally smashing the window, they will not be hurt the glass.
Stop Sign Arms
Every school bus should be equipped with a stop sign arm. It is a traffic sign that notify drivers that they must come to a complete stop. They are fitted on the side of the buses. If they are being placed outside, motorists in both directions must stop so that the school children can cross the road safely
GPS Tracking Device
In this era where hijacking and kidnapping of children is rampant, it is necessary that the movement and whereabouts of the school bus should be tracked. Its adds a safety touch to the bus.
In Bus Camera
This records everything in the and around the bus. In case of any event, the video can be replayed and accessed to know how and where the incident occurred.
It is a must for every school bus to have an exit door. In case of an accident, it offers an alternate way for the occupants to escape to avoid more casualty and loss of lives.
It is a metal framework of reinforcements that protects a car’s passenger cabin or compartment and the passenger in the case of any accident and the car rolls over. So, it’s for the protection of the occupants, thus the school children.
The above are certain basic features of a standard school bus.
One thing that is also largely ignored are the drivers. The drivers of a school bus need to be trained specially. This is for them to know the features of the bus and most importantly on how to handle children within such age bracket. This is greatly ignored and it has an effect on the children.
The school bus situation is different from what we see around here in the country. Most schools which are not strong financially contract minibuses (Trotro) to transport the children, in other instances Trotro drivers submit themselves to transport pupils. These kind of buses have nothing security about them neither do they meet the required safety standards. The drivers have little or no training on how to handle such children. The children are all forced into the bus at a go even when they outnumber the required occupants.
Some schools also have the financial muscles to buy a bus big enough to transport their wards. They may have two or more buses. Even with them, they are not fully equipped with such safety and security features to protect the occupants in case of emergency.
Is this a financial challenge or the owners of these schools have little or no technical knowledge of what a standard school base should be?
What are the authorized institutions in the country which includes DRIVER AND VEHICLE LISCENCING AUTHORITY (D.V.L.A) AND GHANA STANDARD AUTHORITY doing about this situation?
Why are the PARENT TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS (P.T.A) failing to notice this and insist on the right thing to be done?
This says a lot about our society and how we value safety and security. We should insist on the right thing to be done irrespective of the cost. Our lives supercedes everything else.
About the Author
Edmond Nana Cabir Flynt is a vehicle sales advisor based in Takoradi - Ghana. He is also a volunteer, an entrepreneur, and auto show radio presenter.
For further enquiry, consultation, advertisement, product promotion (vehicle related), vehicle and accessory sale, contact him on the following numbers +233(0)209461930 /+233(0)548383591 and email [email protected]
Matthew Odoom Ntsiful - He has moonlighted as an editor since his undergraduate days at University of Ghana ,where he edited papers for fellow students. He recently made a career decision to become a full time freelance editor and writer. He doubles as a Sales and Marketing consultant with concentration on Digital Marketing.