School buses: Students’ cemeteries in Egypt

There is continuous bleeding from students in Egypt due to school bus accidents. With each incident, there are calls to tighten control over drivers and establish special regulations for school buses. Recently, 17 students were injured following a school bus traffic accident in Giza Governorate.

The Ministry of Health revealed that all injuries ranged from bruises and fractures to the body, and two cases in intensive care, one of which is a six-year-old child, and the other is a 35-year-old bus supervisor. Last month, a video clip appeared showing a speeding passenger crashing into a seven-passenger van, killing eight schoolchildren.

In conjunction with this tragic incident, another circulating clip showed a school bus in Nasr City overturning due to the speed at which it was travelling, causing two cars to crash while on his way to pick students up from the school. With the multiplicity of school bus accidents and the fall of dozens of children among the victims and injured, parents appeal to the necessity of conducting medical and psychological examinations and conducting drug analysis for bus drivers. The demands include the necessity of setting up special regulations for school buses and allocating traffic lanes for these buses, as well as raising issues that oblige the Ministry of Interior not to operate transport vehicles during school time.

Addiction and Ineligible Methods

There are many causes of school bus accidents, including drug abuse by some of these bus drivers, poor road conditions that cause accidents to rise, and the absence of traffic laws governing school buses. The Board of Directors of the Addiction Treatment and Prevention Fund announced that a committee had been formed after a school bus accident in 2014 to inspect school drivers and ensure that they did not abuse drugs. He explained that a drug analysis was conducted last school year for about 6,000 school drivers, and the percentage of drug abuse was about three per cent of drivers.

According to Major General Magdy al-Shahed, a traffic expert, there are no implementing regulations for the Traffic Law that govern school buses’ work, as the matter is entirely up to school administrations only. He explained that this is a hazardous matter that causes disasters and the waste of innocent blood on asphalt, stressing that the prevailing thought that school administrations are responsible for organising buses is wrong. The witness called for organising school buses to protect students’ lives, and the necessity of controlling school buses, supervising them by traffic departments, and laying out a route for them.

It is noteworthy that the current traffic law deals with vehicles in general, and there is no special provision to regulate the movement of school buses, whether they are school buses or buses that operate in agreement with parents. Because of the large number of accidents, many parents boycotted school buses after recurring incidents of neglect, fearing for their children’s lives, and a number of them made it clear that they were transporting their children back and forth to their schools.

Others are forced to transport their children on school buses despite their extreme fear of it due to their preoccupation with work, stressing that schools exploit parents’ need for school buses and raise prices. For their part, several traffic experts explained the difficulty of implementing the idea of ​​opening safe lanes for school buses due to the poor condition of the roads and the failure to implement the idea before that with heavy transport vehicles.

Cemeteries for children

The Egyptian governorates have witnessed many tragic accidents during the past few years, in which dozens of children have been killed. In 2014, at least 18 students were injured, and 18 others were injured in a school bus collision with a petrol vehicle, in the village of Anwar al-Mufti, in the Abu Homs district of al-Buhaira governorate. In the same year, a schoolgirl was killed after her feet slipped from a school bus in the village of Umm al-Qusour in Asyut, which led to her falling under the bus. In 2012, a school bus accident killed 50 children and injured 13 when a train travelling from Assiut to Cairo collided with a school bus in the village of Mandara in Manfalut, Assiut Governorate.