ONDO State’s Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has come under fierce criticism for suspending the use of education shuttle buses since the start of the new year that has forced pupils to trek long distances to get to school.
As part of a move to encourage students to attend school, the Ondo State government offers free rides to and from school every day. However, since the resumption of the 2019/20 second term academic session on January 6, 2020, the operations of the free school shuttle buses have been grounded.
Following the suspension of the Free Shuttle School Buses, parents and students have described the action of Governor Akeredolu as inconsiderate. Since the suspension of the scheme by the state government, students and pupils have been seen trekking long distances to their various schools.
Described as a laudable scheme which has been in operation for over eight years, free school bus rides have helped consolidate the position of Ondo as a state with a high school attendance. However, following its suspension, about 50,000 students in public schools have been left stranded on a daily basis across the state.
Free shuttle buses were introduced by the administration of immediate past governor Dr Olusegun Mimiko to convey primary and secondary school students free of charge in major towns across the state. However, since the start of 2020, the operations of the 90 shuttle buses were suspended by the state government due to an alleged lack of funds for maintenance and fuelling.
Apparently, the Ondo State Ministry of Transport had failed to settle debts incurred for the fuelling of the buses since last year, which made filling station owners reject any further debt. However, Tobi Ogunleye, the special adviser to the governor on transport, dismissed insinuations that the government had suspended or cancelled the free shuttle buses.
According to Mr Ogunleye, the non-operation was as a result of ongoing general maintenance of the vehicles. He gave an assurance that hopefully, the shuttle buses would return to the roads this week.