Abu Dhabi: Providing school bus services is proving to be a burden on Indian schools across the capital due to their high maintenance costs, Gulf News has learnt.
Most families whose children study at Our Own English Language School-Abu Dhabi (OOES-AD) - under the Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) - have voiced their dismay over a 100 per cent hike in transportation fees from Dh150 to Dh300.
The school's principal, George Mathew, earlier told Gulf News that the transportation services have been outsourced to the Bright Bus Transport Company (BBTC).
Eight parents from OOES-AD recently highlighted their concern with the Consumer Rights Protection Department in the Ministry of Economy. Gopinath B. Manager of the BBTC spoke to Gulf News about the outcome of the meeting.
"We were asked to justify the raise by 100 per cent and we made it clear that we had nothing to do with what the school was previously charging parents, and that we are an independent entity offering specialised school bus services," said Gopinath.
Despite several attempts, Gulf News was not able to reach Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Rights Protection Department for comment.
The BBTC has been operating in Dubai for almost one year, and has met with similar complaints from other schools over their fees. "It's normal for parents to voice their concerns, but if they want safe transportation services for their children, they should try to understand the clarification behind the fee," said Gopinath.
"A driver's salary is Dh3,000 a month and we have over 800 drivers; not including the rise in maintenance costs. We also invest a good 30 hours every 90 days to train our bus drivers, and will be placing GPRS's in each bus; we also make sure each seat is fitted with a seat belt. All these cost money," he added.
Speaking to a senior educator at Sun Rise School, Gulf News found that the school decided to raise transportation fees from Dh180 to Dh198 just this month. "The 10 per cent hike is due to the fact that we cannot break even with the rise in prices these days," he said.
An administrator at the Abu Dhabi Indian School agreed. "We have been charging Dh100 for the past 15 years. But it is not possible to maintain a certain service with such low fees. We sympathise with parents, but we also have our own duties and responsibilities towards students' safety," he said.