Xinhua News Agency

New school bus crash amid call for cash

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2011, 12:00am

A minivan belonging to a kindergarten in Henan province and acting as a school bus collided with a truck yesterday, as a central government committee called for increased public spending for wider access to safe school buses for mainland pupils.

The accident occurred near the town of Bagongqiao in Puyang county, Xinhua reported.

The minivan had 15 children and a teacher on board. China News Service reported that 10 passengers had been injured, including four seriously, citing the county's publicity department.

Police have detained the drivers. Xinhua said initial investigation suggested a wet and slippery road might have caused the accident.

The call for increased spending was made by a State Council work-safety committee charged with writing a report on the deadly school bus crash on November 16 that killed 19 kindergarten students in Gansu province. The report states that the crash helped expose rampant school bus safety violations across the country, including overloading, unauthorised vehicle modifications and a lack of safety enforcement.

At a national conference on Sunday to promote the welfare of women and children, Premier Wen Jiabao gave the State Council's legal affairs office a one-month deadline for new school bus safety regulations. Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, an educational NGO on the mainland, said the regulations the premier was trying to push through would hold local governments more accountable in tackling the problem of unsafe school buses.

'To offset the funding shortage in some impoverished western regions, the central government should set up a special school bus fund to help them,' Xiong added.

The tightening of school bus safety also comes amid public outrage over a report in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said China donated 23 Chinese-made school buses to Macedonia on Friday. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended the move.