Riddhish Desai with son Om and wife Bhawna. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The father of a child found wandering the streets of International City on Monday has slammed the ‘irresponsible behaviour’ of nursery school staff who failed to inform him of his boy’s disappearance until hours after he went missing.

Om Desai, aged three — not five as was previously reported — was put on the school bus by his parents at 7.30am on Monday morning in Silicon Oasis ahead of a 30-minute ride to Fly High Kids International, France Cluster in International City.

Upon arrival, the nursery school bus driver, teacher and nanny, who were all on-board the bus, allegedly left the boy on the vehicle by accident as everyone else disembarked. The child then got off the bus alone and started wandering the streets, where he was eventually picked up by a police patrol.

It has not been confirmed what time the police found the child. “He had no identification on him and can’t communicate because he is just three, not five,” the boy’s father, Riddhish, told Gulf News on Wednesday. “He had nothing on him, even his bag is still with the nursery. For the nursery it seems the bag was more important than the baby.”

Riddhish received a phone call from the bus driver at 11.45am asking him if he would be picking the child up from nursery himself that day, which set alarm bells ringing with the father, who usually relies on the bus service to drop the child home.

He had nothing on him, even his bag is still with the nursery. For the nursery it seems the bag was more important than the baby.

- Riddhish Desai, Father

The father left it with the bus driver to deliver the child at 12.45pm as usual — still confused as to why the driver had to call to confirm. However, when the boy’s mother Bhwarnar, went to collect the boy off the bus in Silicon Oasis at 12.45pm, the bus driver drove straight past her.

She eventually caught up with the bus as it had to make a U-turn after the next drop off, when she was told by the driver that she had to go to collect the boy from Rashidiya Police Station as Om had been taken there.

Distraught, both parents reached the station and were reunited with the child. They now say they are thankful for the intervention of Dubai Police, but have serious questions to ask of the nursery.

“Why weren’t we called the moment they realised he was missing? And, what checks and balances does the nursery have in place to make sure everyone gets off the bus and is accounted for?

“This was irresponsible behaviour from the driver, teacher and nanny, who were all on-board the bus.

“I have since found out that all three are still working on the bus and no action has been taken by the nursery. I have now stopped sending my child to this nursery, but my concern is now with the security of other children who go to this nursery, and I am warning parents to take care.

“We are thankful that no harm came to our child, but it could have been a lot worse.”

When Gulf News contacted the nursery for their side of the story, a senior staff member who didn’t wish to be identified, said he didn’t alert the parents as soon as the child went missing: “Because I didn’t want to make the parents panic. As soon as we found him we informed them.

“We were looking for the child, found him and then we informed the parents. It didn’t take a long time, there’s nothing to explain actually, it’s a very small incident.

“The security office is next to the nursery, the security office took the child, we were looking for the child, but he was not there because someone had already taken him and given him to the police.

“Once we spoke to security they said we had handed the child to the police, so we went to the police and got the child.”

Asked if they were changing their policies, the nursery staff member replied: “Of course, we are changing all our ID tagging system, yes.”

And on the fate of the three staff on board the bus, he added: “We cannot immediately suspend anyone because we don’t have replacements, so we cannot stop, but they have been given a warning letter, their salary has been reduced and they will be suspended once we find alternative arrangements.”

The nursery spokesman refused to confirm what time the boy was found. On Tuesday, Dubai Police said three staff members on the bus were summoned and questioned.

We didn’t want parents to panic, senior nursery staff says

When Gulf News contacted the nursery for their side of the story, a senior staff member who didn’t wish to be identified, said he didn’t alert the parents as soon as the child went missing “because I didn’t want them to panic. As soon as we found him we informed them.

“We were looking for the child, found him and then we informed the parents. It didn’t take a long time, there’s nothing to explain actually, it’s a very small incident.

“The security office is next to the nursery, the security office took the child, we were looking for the child, but he was not there because someone had already taken him and given him to the police. “Once we spoke to security they said we had handed the child to the police, so we went to the police and got the child.”

Asked if they were changing their policies, the nursery staff member replied: “Of course, we are changing all our ID tagging system, yes.”