The Association has requested the government for waiver of taxes, deferment of motor insurance, extensions of moratorium & waiver of interest among others.
The Bus & Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) & School Bus Owner Association have sought financial relief from the Maharashtra government amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
The Association has requested the government for aid for paying bus staffers’ salaries for entire lockdown period, waiver of taxes, deferment of motor insurance, extensions of moratorium & waiver of interest among others.
Over 50,000 school buses and around 1,50,000 bus staffers are currently in financial distress as they have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. The association said in a statement that several thousand women employees who mandatorily accompanied school children in these buses have also been rendered jobless by the lockdown.
“With the entire school curriculum moving online, bus owners are burdened with taxes, insurance, maintenance, EMI, parking charges due to which they are forced to lay off their staff, as they are not being paid by schools or parents,” said the association in a statement.
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Apart from financial relief, the school bus owners also want the Maharashtra government to increase the age limit of school buses from 8 years to 20 years in Mumbai and 15 years to 20 years in other areas of Maharashtra. The association also wants subsidised fuel rates for school buses and GST input tax credit benefits on purchase of new buses.
Anil Garg, President of School Bus Owner Association said, “Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 crisis and followed by repeated extension of lockdown, many schools have started their classes online and schools have refused to pay bus owners saying that parents are not paying fees for buses as they are not using the bus service. Over 200,000 people in Maharashtra are already dependent on these buses for their livelihoods and many owners have taken loans to buy buses and haven’t been able to pay their loan instalments.”
He added that the state authorities could absorb the fleet of school buses which are lying idle into public transport services for their own staff and also for the local bodies.School buses have been non-operational ever since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced from March 25. Though several public services like gyms and malls are resuming gradually in states like Maharashtra, schools continue to remain shut.