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Schools reopen, but abnormal fare hike puts students at crossroads
School transport issue, including lack of vehicle and hike in fare, may deter some students from attending physical classes.

ByBabie Shirin

Updated on 25 Nov 2021, 2:35 pm

(Representational Image: Unsplash)

(Representational Image: Unsplash)

As schools and colleges reopened recently after long months of closure due to Covid-19 pandemic, private transport services are cashing on the situation and trying to take undue advantages of the lingering Covid situation by hiking the fare. This abnormal fare hike in Manipur is causing immense inconvenience to the students in attending physical classes, particularly in urban areas.

Several student organisations held protests against the hike in fare. They publicly resolved through open public meetings to reduce fare for students by 50 per cent.

Students of Imphal College on January 30 protested against “abnormal fare hike” by passenger service vehicles in the state.  The protesting students alleged that the abnormal hike in fare has caused immense inconveniences to the students in attending college. 

However, the hike in fare continues to trouble schoolgoing students in the valley urban areas, which is hindering their regular attendance.

Regular school attendance is a crucial factor in educational success. It is critically important since students who miss school or skip subjects miss out on carefully planned sequences of instructions.  In order to provide proper education for all, the government and other stakeholders, including parents and educators, are constantly examining for the best solutions that may help improve the education system.

Student transport is important but little attention is given by the government. The negligence or faillure on the part of the authority concerned to look into the school transport issue hugely impacted transport demands for students during peak hours.

Many parents do not have their own transport; they find it difficult to arrange transport for their children. Moreover, all families cannot take their children to and from school. Due to transport problems, it is likely that some students may quit going to school.

The students alleged that taking “undue advantage” of the COVID-19 SOP, private passenger service vehicles are taking fare triple times higher than the normal fare.

“As schools and colleges were re-opened, students are in a situation to stop attending schools and colleges unable to afford the fare,” one of the students alleged.

At Churachandpur too, the Kuki Students Organisation protested the continuing hike in passenger fares on account of the COVID restrictions though there is no proper adherence to SOPs.

A group of girl students of Ananda Academy, who were standing outside the school gate, waiting for auto-rickshaws, told the Imphal Free Press that no auto-driver wants Rs 10 as a fare. If they don’t give Rs 20 or Rs 30 the next day they will not get an auto to go to school.

Among a group of girl students, one student from Imphal East, Top Khongnang Makhong said that she has to pay Rs 20 each to-and-fro and that is a big burden for them.

When this Imphal Fress Press reporter approached the student, the student told the reporter not to approach her or to avoid asking such questions as she (student) might not get an auto when the driver shows up.

The student further said that she lost her father due to COVID-19 and her mother, who was a housewife, has now started earning by selling vegetables and bearing her and her brother’s education budget.

“I don’t feel like going to school or attending online classes from my room as it is putting more burden on my mother,” the student said. Daily to and fro fare has been around Rs 40 or sometimes Rs 50 since she started going to school. If the fare is Rs 10 than it will be very helpful to her in managing school’s expenditure, she said.

Another girl student, who is staying at Dewlahland, said that she reads about fares being reduced for students but when she told the auto-driver about it, she was instead reproached by the driver.

A TG student, who was waiting for Winger to return home at Wangoi, said that she paid Rs 30 each for to-and-fro journey. She tried to give Rs 20 after hearing the news published in the newspapers but the driver did not allow it. Sadly, the same driver did not stop the vehicle while seeing her the next day.

She said that drivers are charging Rs 30 from other students as well.

While asking some auto-drivers, they said that students are occupying the same seat as other passengers. They are also earning to run a family by driving an auto, they said.

DI Tata drivers clarified that they take fares depending on the distance, Rs 20 for some and Rs 30 for others.

A one-day public discussion on ‘Transport Fare Hike and Grievances of Transporters’ held at the office of All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) had resolved to reduce the travel fare for school and college students by 50 per cent.

The discussion resolved to mount pressure on the Transport department for issuing the latest gazette notification regarding revised rate of passenger fare, freight and hiring charges of motor vehicles. It also resolved to mount pressure on the transport department for providing the incentive scheme benefits to private school transporters who have been recognised as bonafide transporters.

Stating that students who use public transport are facing inconvenience while going to school, the meeting stated that it was important for any government to maintain a public school transportation system in order to provide safe, efficient and reliable transportation for its students to achieve national education policy. In other countries there is a transport policy for students in which transport is provided free of charge or special arrangement for payment, such a policy is intended to improve attendance, they said.

 

First published:25 Nov 2021, 5:21 am

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Babie Shirin

Babie Shirin

IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur

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