Full-time Road Safety Commissioner needed, amicus curiae tells High Court

The report also wants the government to withdraw the order giving additional charge of Road Safety Commissioner to the Transport Commissioner. Representative image. Photo: Manorama Online.

Kochi: The amicus curiae appointed by the Kerala High Court following the recent fatal mishap involving a tourist bus carrying school children at Vadakkencherry has submitted its report. A major recommendation of the report, filed before the court, is appointing a full-time Road Safety Commissioner.

The report also says that Motor Vehicles Inspectors (MVIs) and Assistant MVIs attached to Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) and sub-RTOs should be assigned enforcement duty for at least six hours a day. These officers have to work under the Road Safety Commissioner and RTO (Enforcement), the report adds.

Apart from appointing a full-time Road Safety Commissioner, the report wants the government to withdraw the order giving additional charge of Road Safety Commissioner to the Transport Commissioner. It was on April 1 this year that the state government had issued the order in this regard.

After the Vadakkencherry mishap, the Transport Commissioner had personally appeared before the High Court following a directive by Justice Devan Ramachandran.

Other recommendations
In total, the amicus curiae submitted six proposals before the High Court.

The other five recommendations are:

Enforcement: The Road Safety Commissioner should be in charge of RTOs (Enforcement) and ‘Safe Kerala’ squads which are deployed only for enforcement duties.

MVIs, AMVIs: Currently, 900 MVIs and AMVIs are deployed for enforcement duty across the state. These officers have been provided 120 vehicles.

The amicus curiae report wants these officers and vehicles to be brought exclusively under the Road Safety Authority and Road Safety Commissioner. No clerical work should be assigned to these officers, the report adds.

‘Safe Kerala’ project: Under an order issued by the Kerala Government on June 4, 2018, the Road Safety Authority was given the charge of ‘Safe Kerala’ project.

However, by another order released on June 16, the project was assigned to the Transport Commissioner.

At present, a mere four temporary staff work with the Road Safety Authority. The amicus curiae report wants the government to immediately withdraw the order dated June 16, 2018.

Fitness tests: Yet another recommendation is government clearance for setting up automated testing stations for conducting fitness tests of vehicles. The automated stations were suggested by the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988.

Licence to be cancelled
Meanwhile, Transport Commissioner S Sreejith has issued orders to immediately cancel the licence of drivers flouting safety guidelines.

Till now, cancellation of the licence was resorted to only in cases of criminal nature.

A high-level meeting will also be convened by Transport Minister of the state Antony Raju on Monday to take stock of the road safety initiatives.

Measures to approach the courts to withdraw the court orders staying the action taken by the government against tourist buses will be discussed at the meeting.

Operation Focus
At the same time, ‘Operation Focus 3’, the drive by the Motor Vehicles Department against violations of rules by tourist buses, will continue until October 16, said authorities.

In two days, over 1,400 cases were registered as part of the drive and fines amounting to Rs 28 lakh collected.

The inspections are carried out at places where tourist buses start their service in order to avoid inconvenience to passengers.

Tourist buses from other states also are being checked, said officials. 

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