The BEST staffer, who was driving a school bus that mowed down a six-year-old boy in Kandivli on Wednesday, did not have necessary permission from the authorities to do part-time jobs in private buses. The BEST authorities have now initiated an inquiry against the driver for breach of conduct.
After pulling off a six-and-half-hour shift with the BEST, 45-year-old Jokhanlal Yadav was working for nearly four to five hours as a temporary driver for a private bus service. This is against the BEST rules which do not allow bus drivers to seek parallel employment. Yadav did not even have any special permission from the BEST to drive the school bus.
BEST spokesperson Manoj Varade said, “A BEST driver is not allowed to seek parallel employment of any kind. Employees found to be involved in such kind of part-time employment face suspension or salary cuts. It all depends on evidence.’’
But, school bus owners in the city say that they often hire BEST bus drivers as temporary or part-time drivers as they have a ‘’badge’’ to drive heavy vehicles.
Santosh Shetty, a school bus owner from Navi Mumbai, said, “It is a common practice to hire BEST bus drivers for school buses. They are looking for employment after their BEST shift to make little extra money. Generally, the permanent drivers and the BEST temporary drivers divide the salary between themselves.”
However, by pulling such double shifts, they put children’s lives in danger. ‘’Such drivers who are working over 10 hours are dangerous. Continuous work means that they do not get sufficient sleep and are fatigued. Such drivers should not be allowed to drive school buses. We are putting the lives of innocent children such as Gautam Naidu on the line,’’ said Arundhati Chavan, president PTA United Forum.
The Sardar Vallabhbahi Patel Vidyalaya, Kandivili (West), held a condolence meeting on Thursday to mourn the death of Gautam Naidu.