Private school transport system

Save parents, students from school vehicle mafia
Rawalpindi, Feb 21: Rawalpindi school children continue to suffer at the hands of uncaring private school vehicles operators. Has any driver ever been arrested and punished for transporting children in overcrowded school vans without ventilation? Never! Even reams of newsprint and barrels of ink all these years in a bid to jolt the transport authorities into noting down the predicament of the unfortunate school children, who have become slaves of the school vehicle mafia, have been unsuccessful.

As is the way with us, nobody cares until tragedy strikes. Promises of stern action against wayward school vehicle operators remain unfulfilled so far. Measures to regulate the school transport system are long overdue.

It is high time these vehicles were tested for fitness and their drivers disciplined to guarantee the safety of children. Some children have to spend two or three hours in school vans to travel several kilometres as those vehicles go in winding routes so as to maximize their profits.

The present-day children are often accused of aggressive behaviour, which is attributed to several factors including their exposure to violence on TV. Does the torment they are made to experience in school vehicles besides heavy school bags they carry and an overdose of private tuition have to do with their behaviour? Children are wordless and parents powerless before the all-powerful school vehicle mafia. Children are too frightened to protest their difficulties and their parents too hesitant to brazen out the snobbish drivers, as they are without any other mode of transport. So, both parents and children suffer in silence.

These vehicle operators also act like a gang of extortionists. In addition to excessive fares they charge, they have to be paid even during school vacations! Where else on earth does this kind of daylight robbery take place? Fares are also jacked up according to operators' whims and fancies and parents have no option but to accept it. Whom can parents turn to? The unusual growth of school vehicles is an indictment on both the city transport system and the education system. When a child is admitted to school, parents have to take great pains to make certain that they live within the specific radius from the school of their choice.

There are thousands of vehicles transporting children to many schools from remote places. The rise in the number of private school vehicles speaks volumes for the failure of the city government to cater to the growing demand for public transport. School transport is an area where the city fathers can expand its operations and mint money while bringing relief to the stressed public. They should provide a heavily subsidised school transport service for the benefit of school goers.

Besides this service, which is tantamount to a giant investment in social welfare, they should explore the possibility of starting a school van service (a few schools are providing this service) with a reasonable fare structure to compete with the private van operators fleecing parents. The present fleet of private school vehicles with its excessive charges and administrative ills remains a people-unfriendly service.

City government intervention is the best cure for the monopolistic exploitation by the private sector school vans. To discipline the private school transport system the city fathers must come forward to create a healthy competition for the benefit of the people! The news

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Action against authorities responsible for hiring doctors
Rawalpindi: The Punjab government has not yet initiated action against the authorities responsible for hiring doctors having fake MBBS degrees at the District Headquarters Hospital Rawalpindi though the inquiry report has already been submitted to the office of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, it has been learnt.

Official sources close to the inquiry conducted by Farrukh Naveed, Chairman Task Force Administrative Efficiency Punjab said that the inquiry officer had held high officials in the health department, Rawalpindi Medical College, DHQ and Holy Family hospitals responsible for appointing the fake doctors as medical officers and four certified doctors in violation of rules and regulations.

The sources said the inquiry completed two months back had gone beyond the arrested medical superintendent of DHQ hospital, Dr Khalid Malik, while fixing responsibility for appointing three brothers - Syed Allaudin, Syed Naseeruddin and Syed Salahuddin - in the DHQ hospital despite the fact they had fake medical degrees from Afghanistan.

The official close to the inquiry said though the government had taken initial steps on the recommendations of the inquiry report but a fully-fledged action was yet to be initiated against the higher health authorities.

The inquiry team while investigating the induction of the three brothers; nurse Riffat haheen as female medical officer and hiring of four doctors - Mobeen Akhtar, Maryam Waqar, Romana Malik and Qasim Ali - both at the DHQ hospital and HFH in violation of rules and regulations had questioned the position of RMC principal and some high officers in the health department in Lahore.

It has been learnt that the inquiry report had held the view that how it was possible for a medical superintendent to first hire fake doctors on a regular basis and then get them regularised when the power of drawing and dispensing officer was with the RMC principal and the final approval for the regular appointments were made by the health department in Lahore.

Though the Anti-corruption Establishment Rawalpindi has sent the case of the MS, his deputy Dr Bilal Arshad, hospital accountant Asif Ayub, Director Finance for Allied Hospitals Mohammad Rasheed, the three brothers, head clerk DHQ Malik Irfan, his wife and nurse Riffat Shaheen and three lady doctors Mobeen Akhtar, Maryam Waqar and Romana Malik to the court, no legal action has been initiated regarding the appointment of Dr Akhtar Ali.

When contacted, the inquiry officer, Farrukh Naveed said he had sent the report to the office of the chief minister for further action. Dawn

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Frequent power outages affected FPSC work
Islamabad: Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) Chairman Justice (retd) Baghwandas says he is trying to slash the long wait faced by the successful Central Superior Service (CSS) candidates after appearing in the examination.

The written CSS examination is arranged every March and the result is declared close to the last quarter of the same year. Oral interviews of successful candidates are held early next year, and the final result is announced after June.

This means that the FPSC takes at least 16 months to complete the exercise. This period is apart from the two years that candidates spend at the two training academies over which the FPSC has no control.

The successful candidates require some five years (including the time required for preparation of the examination) to start their actual service.

The FPSC chief said that frequent power outages were greatly affecting the FPSC work and were a major hurdle in cutting down this time period. He said he had directed his office to take every step to reduce it so that the candidates did not have to wait for long.

He said that during his recent meeting with the prime minister, he asked for allocation of funds to pay to the power company for a second electricity line to the FPSC offices. He said he was also shortly writing to Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin for immediate release of funds.

Baghwandas said that automation of record being done now would help bring about efficiency only after if there were no frequent power outages. He said that the workload was very heavy this year. A total of 11,000 applications were received.

Of them, as many as 900 candidates have passed the written examination and they are now being interviewed. The chairman said that the interviews that began in January have so far been conducted in Islamabad and Karachi.

Interviews would be conducted in Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar in the next few weeks, he said.

Baghwandas said that a building had been hired in Multan and efforts were being made to conduct interviews at this station for the first time so that candidates from this part of the Punjab did not have to come to Lahore. He said that the final results would be announced in June this year.

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YDA to join hike
Rawalpindi: The twin cities wing of the Young Doctors Association has decided to participate in a hike titled 'Fight against corruption' being organised by Pakistan Green Task Force in collaboration with the hiking club of Rawalpindi Medical College today (Sunday).

"During the hike, we would register our protest against the US and whatsoever being done with our sister Dr Aafia Siddiqui," said YDA Rawalpindi President Dr Muhammad Haroon said that Young Doctors Association has already started a series of protests in support of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

The first massive protest was staged in Lahore. Dr Aafia Siddiqui did MBBS from QMC, Bahawalpur, MD from USA and PhD Nuclear Medicine from USA.

Dr Haroon said that all the allegations levelled against her are false and young doctors condemn her imprisonment and demand the government authorities to bring her back.

"Young doctors from all hospitals of Rawalpindi and Islamabad will participate in the walk," he said. President YDA Rawalpindi Dr Haroon and President YDA Islamabad Dr Sajid will lead young doctors who would be displaying banners and posters to express their support for Dr Aafia Siddiqui. President Medical Students Wing YDA Shahid will lead the students in the hike.

Green Task Force has organized the walk and funds for the hike. The walk will start at 10 a.m. on Track 5 Margallah Hills, about 1.7 kilometre distance and end at Monaal, Pir Sohawa where closing ceremony will be held. Dr Afia's sister Fouzia Siddiqui and her cousin Noureen are expected to participate.

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Foundation stone laid
Peshawar: The University of Peshawar (UoP) Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Azmat Hayat Khan Saturday laid the foundation stone of a separate colony for University Public School (UPS) employees at a ceremony in Hayatabad.

The 10 kanals property, previously under the university possession, was specified for a colony due to accommodation problems being faced by the faculty on the campus.

Addressing the ceremony, Dr Azmat Hayat said that with the passage of time the space for family accommodation on the campus was shrinking. The news

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