A.B Sheriff: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 August 2019:
In support of Sierra Leone’s Free Quality Education Programme which is a flagship of the Bio led government, the ministry of transport and aviation this week announced that the fifty school buses bought by the government from China, will be fairly allocated across the districts in the country.
Transport minister – Kabineh M. Kallon, made this announcement at the ministry of information and communication’s weekly press briefing which was chaired by the deputy minister of information and communication – Mamadi Gobeh.
Transport minister Kallon said that since the arrival of the fifty government school buses, they have had several meetings with stakeholders including the ministry of finance, ministry of education, ministry of local government and all the district councils in the country, to discuss how many buses will be allocated to each district.
Kallon informed the press that the fifty buses cost $4,980,000, manufactured by the Golden Dragon Company in China and insured by the National Insurance Company of Sierra Leone.
He said it has been decided that the buses will be allocated to the districts as follows: Kailahun 2, Kenema 5, Kono 3, Bombali 3, Koinadugu 1, Tonkolili 2, Falaba 1, Portloko 2, Karene 1, Kambia 1, Bo 6, Bonthe 1, Moyamba 1, Pujehun 1, Western Rural 5 and Western Urban 12, bringing the total allocated to 47. The remaining 3 buses he said, will be reserved for any emergency.
‘’During our meetings held with stakeholders, we agreed to set up committees to monitor the operation of the school buses. The committees comprise of the Chairman or Mayor of the district, the Director of Education, District Officers, Youth Representative, Provincial Secretary, Civil Society Organisation, Women representative, Sierra Leone Teachers Union, and Sierra Leone Police. The buses will be operated on a cost recovery basis,’’ minister Kabineh Kallon said.
He added that the government will ensure that the daily bus fare per child will meet the affordability of parents, and will be agreed before the launching of the buses which is scheduled for the 13th September, 2019.
The allocated buses will be made available to the districts a day or two before the launching ceremony which will be organised by the committee members of each district.
Transport minister Kallon also informed that the bus manufacturing company has provided a month’s training for the all the drivers and technicians. (Photo above: President Bio launching the National Free and Quality Education Programme).
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation – Brima S.T Kebbie spelt it out clearly that the government school buses will only be used by government and government assisted school pupils, and will not be available for use by teachers and private schools.
But the one million dollar question that remains unanswered, is how or what mechanism will be set up to help bus conductors and drivers identify pupils who are attending government and government assisted schools.