Succor has come to parents of pupils attending public primary and secondary schools in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos state, as the government launched free shuttle buses to convey pupils to and from schools.
The idea of introducing the 30-seater coaster buses is to convey children of indigent parents from various junctions in the area to ameliorate the suffering of such families as well as addressing truancy.
No fewer than 13,000 pupils in the 26 primary and nine secondary schools in the area are expected to benefit from the service.
The buses, according to the chairman of the council, Alhaji Ganiyu Kola Egunjobi, will operate during weekdays to convey pupils of public schools within the local government area to and fro their various schools.
He said: “The shuttle buses will pick pupils between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. at designated bus-stops including; Agbotikuyo, Capitol, Ogba-Ashade and Pen Cinema among others, and drop them at the same locations between 2.30p.m. and 5 p.m. after school.”
He described the scheme as a social intervention programme, aimed at relieving parents and guardians from their daily struggle of meeting their responsibilities to their wards.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media to the council chairman, Rotimi Sulyman, said the scheme was launched in fulfillment of the promise made by the council chairman before assuming office.
According to him, the chairman on assumption of office, built classrooms, provided furniture to public schools in the local government area as well as provided exercise books, uniforms for the pupils.
“We are starting the ‘free school bus scheme’ with two 30-seater coaster buses but our plan is to have five buses before the end of the year. The buses will not just go once or twice, they will go as many times as possible and will begin movement from 6 am,”
He disclosed that the council has sponsored an edict titled ‘Agege Free School Shuttle Bus’ currently before the councilors. The essence of the bill, according to him, is to legitimize the scheme so as to enhance its sustainability. The bill, he said, recommends that at every time, there must be a fleet of five vehicles to serve pupils of the public schools.
He stressed that the scheme will help address truancy among the pupils especially those who play pranks on their parents by leaving home to other destinations under the guise of going to school.
“In Agege like most slums, there is a nexus between poverty and crime. We have been battling with a notorious group of boys and girls called ‘Awawa cult group’. The group attacks and robs people and carry out other heinous acts at any time. We feel that the only way to save these young ones from joining such cult groups is to encourage them to go to school and because they are also susceptible to influence from bad friends and people around, we intend to use the bus initiative to limit the time they spend while in nobody’s care and vulnerable to the influence of bad kids”
“So, the bus will pick them in the morning and drop them at junctions close to their houses after school in the afternoon. This will go a long way to reduce the rate at which they can be influenced by their peers and other groups in the area,” he said.
Egunjobi had earlier during the flag-off of the scheme, assured of his commitment to fighting crime and criminality in the area stating that the scheme will go a long way to help in the council’s renewed war against the menace of ‘Awawa’ cult group. Additionally, the scheme, he said, will reduce the risk faced by pupils who ride on motorcycles or tricycle to and from school.
A number of pupils, who spoke to Eko Trust, expressed joy over the new scheme, saying they are happy.
Deborah, who lives at Adeyinka Street, Agege but attends Sango Primary School, about three kilometers distance, commended the government, saying that the scheme will relieve her of the rigor of trekking everyday.
Another pupil living at National also commended the local government, urging it to speedily increase the number of buses so as to avoid lateness to school as well as going back home.