The Agege Local Government in Lagos on Monday launched free bus services for pupils of public primary and secondary schools in the area.
Thirteen thousand pupils in 26 primary schools and nine secondary schools in the area are to benefit.
The 30-seater branded coaster buses with the inscription: “Free School Bus” will operate during weekdays except holidays, conveying pupils of public schools within the local government area to and from schools.
The shuttle buses will pick pupils between 6.00 a.m and 8.00 a.m at designated bus stops of Agbotikuyo, Pen Cinema, Capitol and Ogba-Ashade and drop them at the same locations between 2.30 p.m and 5.00 p.m.
During the flag-off of the service, the Executive Chairman of the council, Alhaji Ganiyu Kola Egunjobi, who drove one of the buses from Agbotikuyo where he picked some pupils at 7.00 a.m. and drove through Dopemu, Awosoga and Iloro.
Speaking to newsmen at Diary Farm Primary School where some of his passengers alighted, the council chief said that the scheme would be a social intervention programme aimed at ameliorating the suffering of indigent families in the area.
“It is a daily struggle for most parents and guardians in Agege to meet their responsibilities to their children and wards and as government we are disturbed and concerned.
“The council under my watch, equally recognised the strong nexus between poverty and crime and susceptibility of children to peer pressure particularly in our community where cultism is on the rise.
“We hope this programmes can equally help in our renewed war against the menace of the Awawa cult group.
“We think this way, we would be able to limit the period our pupils are in the care of nobody and vulnerable to the influence of bad kids,” he said.
Egunjobi said that the scheme would reduce incessant risks faced daily by pupils who rode on motorcycles to schools and return home by the same means.
He said that efforts were on to ensure that the free bus shuttle had legislative backing to ensure it outlived his administration.
“As we speak, the council executive has sponsored a bill tagged: “Agege Free School Bus Shuttle” which is before our legislative arm.
“We want to legitimise the scheme and ensure its sustainability. In the bill, we recommended that at every time there must be a minimum of five operational vehicles for the scheme.
“We are starting with two and hopefully before the end of this year, we will increase the fleet”.
Reacting, Bishop Julius Egunjobi, Chairman of Agege Development Committe commended the scheme and praised the Egunjobi administration.
“Our joy knows no bounds. We have not witnessed anything of this kind in Agege. This administration of Egunjobi is first in several areas.
“My prayer is that God will continue to bless the council chairman and enrich him with knowledge and ideas to take Agege to greater heights.”
“Miss Stella Akan, a pupil of Diary Farm Primary School, also commended the scheme, adding that the current council leadership has been running a people-centered administration.”
“This government has done a lot for us. About five schools were rehabilitated and new classrooms and modern toilets built.
“This government also gave uniforms, desks, exercise books and bags. We are grateful to the council and its Chairman.”