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Private school bus drivers protest ministry’s decision to scrap old vehicles

School buses exceeding manufacturing date by 20 years should be disposed of — ministry

By Maram Kayed - Nov 14,2018 - Last updated at Nov 14,2018

AMMAN — Private school bus drivers on Wednesday protested the Ministry of Transport’s (MOT) regulations dictating that school buses which have exceeded their manufacturing date by 20 years are not allowed to operate in Jordan.

Demonstrating in front of the Transport Ministry, the drivers called the regulation “unfair” and “discriminatory” because it does not apply to all public buses, but only those meant for transporting children.

“Buses manufactured in 1998, for example, cannot operate as of 2019. It does not matter if the bus is in good shape, it is disposed of by customs regardless,” Abu Yazan, a school bus driver, told The Jordan Times over the phone, adding: “What is even worse is that we are not compensated for our loss once our buses are destroyed.”

Although many of the bus drivers do not own the buses they operate, which are mostly school property, they say the regulation still has consequences for them. 

According to Abu Yazan, once a bus is taken off the road by the ministry, the school often transfers the kids to another bus operating in a nearby area and does not replace the bus until much later, if at all.

The bus driver assigned to the destroyed bus is then later dismissed by the school, he claimed.

“It is unfair because drivers are randomly assigned to buses. So, if you have bad luck and are assigned to an old one, there is nothing you can do about it,” said Bassam Maher, another school bus driver.

A teacher who heads the transport division at a private school in Amman, and who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “New buses cost a lot. They have to be new, since the school does not want it to be destroyed soon, and that sometimes is not in the school’s budget.”

“This, of course, means that buses are often overcrowded. We receive a lot of complaints saying that some children do not get to their houses until four o’clock,” she added.

As a response to the protestors’ demands, Minister of Transport (MoT) Walid Masri agreed to extend the operation of buses made in 1996-1998, the MoT’s Spokesperson Ali Odeibat said, adding that “the ministry will also look into granting affected drivers compensation for their buses, but the process may take a while, since this is a joint decision with customs”.

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