The Ministry of Education (MoE) has said that it is working on new school transportation law in the wake of accidents involving students that are reported at regular levels in the country.
According to Dr Abdullah bin Khamis Ambusaidi, Under-Secretary for Education, the ministry currently operates 17,000 buses at a cost of RO80 million annually. He said that if the school bus operations are moved to a private company, the cost of the operation will double to RO180 million.
MoE is also working with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MoTCIT), Royal Oman Police (ROP), and companies in the oil and gas sector to ensure the safety of public transport.
Recently, a video of the incident went viral following which the Royal Oman Police arrested a school bus driver.
The video was about the incident of a student falling from one of the school buses, whose health condition was stable.
Several questions have been raised by citizens and residents about the lack of safety procedures on the bus, such as the absence of supervisors, especially women supervisors in the bus transporting girl students.
ROP has issued guidelines for bus drivers to ensure the safe transportation of students. The instructions are significant because speeding, negligence, bad behaviour and not keeping a safe distance is among the main causes of traffic accidents in the country, according to the latest statistics.
Colonel Khamis bin Ali al Batashi, Assistant Director General of Traffic, said, "ROP has taken many measures in coordination with the Ministry of Education and in line with the Traffic Law and its executive regulations. The roads will witness traffic congestion, especially at peak times, and therefore traffic patrols will work to facilitate traffic and deal with all that obstructs traffic, especially in places with more congestion than others."
"Traffic patrols will facilitate the movement of buses, give them priority in traffic, and monitor the extent to which the bus driver adheres to traffic rules and regulations, and the number of people allowed on a bus," he added.
He said that all drivers of public and private school buses must be careful when approaching student gathering places and not to move until after making sure that all students have crossed the streets. "They should stop buses in their designated places," Colonel Batashi said.