WHAT is the cost of a child’s life?
That is the question parents of the Bayswood Estate at Vincentia are asking.
Pleas for a safe crossing on the busy Jervis Bay Road to get their children into the estate after they are dropped off by the school bus have fallen on deaf ears.
Parents said the problem has been bounced around between the developers of the estate, Stockland, the bus company Nowra Coaches and Shoalhaven City Council and no one seemed to want to take responsibility.
The parents are pleading for someone to take action before a child is hit by a car.
At the moment there is no designated bus stop or drop-off zone for the estate.
Up to 22 children are let off the bus after school each day in a driveway across the road from the estate entrance and then have to try to negotiate traffic on Jervis Bay Road in an 80km/h zone, just metres from a blind corner.
Residents Ben Krikstolaitis and Janice Armstrong are among a small group of parents who try to meet the bus each afternoon to ensure the children cross the road safely.
They said they have witnessed “many close calls”.
“There have been a few instances where children have nearly been struck crossing the road,” Mr Krikstolaitis said.
“This is an accident waiting to happen.
“The kids have to cross up to three lanes of traffic at 80km/h and there is a blind corner just east of the estate entrance.
“We have contacted the developers, the bus company and council and each say it is the other’s responsibility.
“Any contact with the council is rebuffed and sent back to Stockland, the developers, they blame the bus company, which then points us in the direction of council and the circle continues.
“We don’t care who fixes it as long as something is put in place to ensure the safety of the kids.
“What is a child’s life worth?
“It is too late when someone is hit and killed – or worse still, one speeding driver could hit the whole group and 20 kids could well be dead.”
The new community of Bayswood Estate has grown significantly with families, most of whom have young children that attend local schools, in particular Vincentia Public School.
“Currently up to 22 children catch the bus home each day,” Mrs Armstrong said.
“The children range in ages from kindergarten, six years, up to year 6, 12 years, and quite often we also have high school students on the bus as well.
“We just try to keep the kids together and cross the road when it is safe.
“But it can be a battle to keep that many kids, of such varying ages, focused on getting over the road safely.
“This is a major issue – there is no designated bus stop or drop-off zone for the estate, and we have been told that buses aren’t allowed within the estate as the roads aren’t wide enough, yet we see large work trucks coming from the nearby estate works all the time.
“So surely if they can fit a truck they can fit a bus.”
Two parents regularly attend the drop-off and help the children across the road, but as of this week they haven’t been attending as regularly.
On occasions it has even fallen to the bus driver to help the children cross the road.
“There are not even sign posts warning drivers of the kids crossing at that point of the road,” Mrs Armstrong said.
And then once the students do negotiate the road crossing there are not even any footpaths within the new estate.
“The kids just disappear through the bush to get home,” Mr Krikstolaitis said.
“It’s either that or they have to walk on the roads, there are no footpaths and there is another blind corner just metres into the estate opening.
“A lot of the time there is nowhere for the kids to even get off the road if they wanted too.
“They end up walking through a bush section and during wet times it has ticks, leaches and even snakes.”
Mr Krikstolaitis, who has driven buses, believed there was an easy solution, which he has suggested to council a number of times.
“Just negotiate with Stockland to allow a bus into the estate,” he said.
“I have driven buses previously and believe it would add approximately 45 seconds to the route at the most but importantly provide a safe drop-off area within the estate for the children.”