SAFETY of School Going Children Totally NEGLECTED around St Theresa’s School

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SAFETY of School Going Children Totally NEGLECTED around St Theresa’s School, Bendur, Mangaluru

Mangaluru: If the Bendur-Kankanady road was on PM Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Mangaluru, it would have got a facelift, unfortunately, his route to the venue where he addressed was not on this road stretch. Just look at the Bendore-Kankanady stretch of road- it is nothing but filled with potholes, dug-up spots, etc. And one area is around St Theresa’s School (STS), Bendur, where you can see the pathetic condition of the roads, filled with mega potholes, mud, sand, rocks, dug-up pits etc- and the hundreds of school-going children have to wade through such nearby roads, putting their LIVES in RISK.

Right from the road near Horticulture and to the road adjacent to the School is totally dilapidated since months, after a bunch of drainages, manholes, etc were fixed, and post the completion of the works, the mess was left behind putting peoples éspecially children’s lives in danger. The daily commute of students of St Theresa’s School is not only bone-grinding due to the kutcha access roads, but also due to the heavy speeding traffic close to the schools, and with no traffic cop posted during peak hours, has also been a hassle and inconvenience faced in crossing the nearby roads.

But has anyone from Mangaluru City Corporation, right from the MCC Commissioner to the Mayor and area ward corporator shown any concern towards the safety of the hundreds of schools, and the public making use of these roads? Bah humbug! Maxim Moras, operating a van transporting school children says even if he starts early to pick up or drop kids hoping to reach on time, his efforts are all in vain due to traffic chaos and dilapidated streets around the school.

Residents also living close by to these dusty roads for decades are now facing health hazards due to the dust and other particles entering their homes due to the movement of buses, cars and other vehicles. “Our lives are being affected. The government or City may destroy our homes and build roads to make life easy for these people,” rued an elderly resident living across from the school.

School children and their parents have another big headache. As a parent of a class 1 student put it, the back-breaking journey leaves the children with little energy to focus on academics. The School does not have a decent motorable access road, prompting children to cross muddy tracks to enter school- thanks to the city officials for leaving the streets in such a mess. With the present condition of the streets, parents and the school management are worried about kids’ safety. Many times, vehicles, especially two-wheelers heading to the school face a hard time, navigating through the road, sometimes getting stuck on the slushy and undulating road.

If one enters Bendur Cross Road, the school is to the left and there is a kutcha road with pits dug up on its either side. With virtually no road demarcated in the area, kutcha tracks are being used to approach the school. “The road is terrible. Having to ride with my son sitting on the bike’s fuel tank is challenging, and taking his child to school is a dreadful experience. Swift action must be taken to repair the stretch,” added Ramesh, who has his son studying in 5th std at STS.

Are school kids safe on Mangaluru roads? Survey hints at risks. India, which is home to the largest population of children in the world, loses more than 15,000 minors under the age of 18 to road accidents every year. This is the highest in the world as per the World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety. As physical classes resumed in many parts of India, the threat of contracting the virus aside, children also have to face the risk of road traffic accidents while commuting to schools, which continues to beleaguer upcoming cities, like Mangaluru

In Mangaluru, 90% of the children live within five kilometres of the school and around 57% of children walk to school. A mapping of road crash victims shows that 88% of all child accidents have occurred within a 250-meter walking distance around schools. Sixty-four (8%) fatalities were reported within 100-meter walking distance from these schools. These are spaces where school buses, public transport, auto-rickshaws, taxis, and private vehicles drop off students. Many of the road accidents in Mangaluru also occur along arterial roads, which are designed for high-speed traffic. Incidentally, several schools, including St Theresa’s School are located near arterial roads.

This makes students particularly vulnerable, especially those who walk or cross these busy roads during school hours. For the safety of students, the arterial roads must have a safe pedestrian infrastructure for crossing, which needs to be monitored by the traffic police and schools during peak hours. It is also essential to consider strict enforcement of lower speed limits in the proximity of schools, especially during school hours. Unfortunately, that is not happening in our so-called SMART CITY.

Hoping this report will awaken the concerned authorities in MCC, including the area ward corporator in taking action to fix the dilapidated areas around this school so that no accidents or fatalities occur due to the negligence of the elected LEADERS. Period.

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