Time to bring back Free School Shuttle Buses Scheme in Ondo state – SDP

Time to Bring Back Our Free School Shuttle Buses Scheme in Ondo State

The Social Democratic Party in Ondo State calls on the Ondo State government to, as a matter of urgency, reintroduce the free shuttle buses for our secondary school students. We make this call after taking note of the difficulties parents in the eighteen local governments across the state face in providing daily transportation funds for their children as a result of the unjust hardship imposed on the populace by the APC-led Federal Government.

We recall that the previous administration introduced the free bus shuttle scheme and ran it unfettered for nearly eight years in the state’s major cities and towns. Every day, the buses took the students to and from specific bus stations in the towns and cities. However, as soon as classes started for the second term of the 2019/2020 academic year, Governor Akeredolu’s administration abruptly stopped operating the buses without providing any justification.

No explanation was provided until June 2022 when Special Adviser on Transport to Governor Akeredolu declared that the free school shuttle bus programme had been discontinued because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Now that COVID-19 is history and parents all over Ondo State are bearing the brunt of the economic hardship caused by the APC, it is time to bring the free buses back into the system.

While they were in service, the free shuttle buses decreased the amount parents spent on their children’s transportation. Now that time is hard, the reintroduction of shuttle buses would help with transportation of children of impoverished parents from various intersections across the state to lessen the pain of such families and to address truancy. It will deal with absenteeism among students, especially those who may be trek to school and chose to head to other places instead of attending class.

It is a common knowledge that devil finds work for idle hands. Many pupils whose parents cannot afford daily transportation may drop out of school as a result of the continued economic difficulties being faced throughout the state. Reintroducing the free shuttle buses would not only ensure that no student dropped out of school due to a lack of transportation funds, but it would also help save our state’s promising teenagers who are vulnerable to influence from bad friends and peers.

The fact that the buses will pick them in the morning and drop them off after school at intersections close to their homes will go a long way to reduce the rate at which they can be influenced by their peers and other undesirable groups. Indeed, free shuttle buses will limit the time they spend alone and exposed to dangerous students’ influence. The programme will also lessen the risk that students who commute to and from school on motorbikes or tricycles encounter.

Therefore, the scheme is necessary as a social intervention programme designed to free parents and guardians from their daily struggle of meeting their responsibilities to their children

In light of this, we wish to challenge the State Government to resume operating the school buses for our children in order to ease the suffering parents are experiencing in the state at this crucial time when petrol is sold at the minimum price of ₦500/litre.

We also use this platform to call on the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) chapter in Ondo State, and other interested parties to pressure the government to take all necessary steps to ease the stress and hardship experienced by parents who pay through the nose to transport their children to school.

Last but not least, while we pray for the recovery of Governor Akeredolu, the Social Democratic Party acknowledges the press statement issued yesterday by the ruling APC where it attacked the position adopted by the SDP and congratulated the ruling party for waking up from its inertia. We advise Ondo APC to join us in pressuring their elected officials to reinstate our free school shuttle buses in order to lessen the suffering of the good people of Ondo State who twice voted for their party in the state, rather than writing a flippant press statement to obscure the obvious.

Hon. Stephen Adewale

Ondo State Chairman

Social Democratic Party (SDP)

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