Starting next year, private vans that ferry kids to school will have to register with the authorities as part of a standardisation and amnesty process, The Star reports. Transport minister Anthony Loke said this was necessary to create a more organised school transport system and to ensure safety of the pupils.

“It’s a very community-based service where the parents offer the driver some money to cover the fuel costs. It has been around for at least 30 years but the registration needs to be done so that parents are ensured a safer and more organised system of sending their children to the school,” he said yesterday.

“We are only targetting private vehicles like vans ferrying 15 to 20 students at any one time and are currently unregistered,” he added. Parents who send their own children and their friends to school will be exempted.

Loke recognised the need for private car school transport as there were insufficient school buses. “There is only one school bus for every 266 students. It is not enough. However, it becomes a grave concern if the driver does not meet the safety requirements. They have no insurance, they don’t go for the vehicle inspection and as they are not registered, we don’t know who they are,” he said.

The minister added that he’s expecting some resistance from such drivers, but stressed that the move was in the everyone’s best interests. This comes after the government put in place a timeline for the regulation of Grab and e-hailing drivers, who must next year undergo the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) course and get the PSV license, as required for taxi drivers. The period to comply is from January to July 2019.