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Shuttle buses have been deployed to transport primary and secondary school students in Ondo State as the new school session commences today. The buses were introduced during the former administration led by Oluwasegun Mimiko.

During an interview regarding the reintroduction of the free shuttle, the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Tobi Ogunleye, stated that the shuttle would assist students in their daily commute.

“This free shuttle is also part of the palliative measures the state government has put in place to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy. We are launching 86 free shuttles for the pupils, and parents were delighted about it this morning when we went out. The beneficiaries of these free shuttles are the students, and we will run this from September to November this year and continue next year. We don’t want it to be discontinued.”

The commissioner clarified that the rumors about the shuttle buses moving from Ondo State to Imo State are untrue.

“This will be a relief for parents and students. One thing I want to emphasize is that COVID-19 delayed the start of this programme because people had been saying that these buses were being used in Imo State. This is a rumour, and it is not true.”

However, the commissioner mentioned that some local governments that did not benefit during the last regime would now be considered.

“We are striving for fairness, and these buses will soon be extended to all local governments in the state. During the last regime, only 12 local governments enjoyed it, but Ifedore, Ose, and Akoko South will now be included. We used to have 90 buses before, but during the EndSARS protest, four of the buses in Okitipupa were destroyed and set ablaze. However, we will reallocate and provide them with 2 buses from Akure. We won’t neglect the local governments because of a few miscreants; we will ensure equitable distribution for the sake of our people and students who are our future. Those living in the water areas will also be provided with free boats and life jackets. Safety is a top priority for the Ministry of Transportation, and we will ensure that drivers are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Civil defence will also monitor the movement.”

He added, “The members of the Parents and Teachers Association have agreed that students will pay stipends starting from next year.”

Addressing the challenges faced during the reintroduction of the buses, he expressed concern about maintenance.

“We faced challenges in bringing the buses out, but we had to keep our promises. We had to repair those buses, and it was costly. We have started the free shuttle in 7 local governments for now, with morning and afternoon routes. After two weeks, all other buses will be ready for other local governments.”

During an interview with students of Fiwasaye Grammar School in Akure, they expressed their concerns about the sustainability of the buses.

“I am surprised that this is happening; we thought it would be a failed promise from the government. We hope for its sustainability as these buses will reduce the money we spend on transportation to and from school. We can sit comfortably and walk to our classes. This is really good for us, and we have been anticipating it for a long time,” said Festus Bidemi.

Abiodun Faith added, “I am so happy; we have our shuttle back. I felt sad when the shuttle wasn’t in operation. I pray that the shuttle will not get damaged.”

According to Ololade Olamide, “The shuttle will relieve our stress. We used to walk under the sun every day, but now we can sit comfortably in our buses and go home.”

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