By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The acute transportation problem which staff and students of the 69 federal tertiary institutions in Nigeria have been facing in the last 30 years is already on the path of becoming history as the Federal Government has procured for them 138 buses worth N2 billion.
The buses, which are branded â€œFederal Government Mass Transit Supportâ€, comprise of 91 Toyota 30-seater coastal buses, 27 Mercedes MBO 1721 Busscars and 20 Nissan Civilian 30-seater buses.
While speaking in Lagos at the launch of the buses, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Professor Olagoke Afolabi said the provision of the buses was made a reality through a special presidential initiative to reduce the suffering of the students and staff of the nationâ€™s federal tertiary institutions.
This initiative, according to him, was informed by the serious challenges in mass transportation which the institutions have been contending with.
His words: â€œIn the last three decades, the federal tertiary institutions have been plagued by a pool of unserviceable vehicles amidst the competing demands for funds. The demand for fund in the critical areas of provision of adequate physical infrastructure for these institutions has resulted in a near total neglect of mass transportation arrangements.
This hardship and the resultant loss of comfort and dignity for this social class has prompted Federal Government to decide to provide a palliative through the provision of buses for use on campuses.â€
Afolabi stressed the need for all stakeholders,Â including the Federal Government, private sector organisations, development partners and other public-spirited individuals to collaborate and improve the funding of tertiary education in the country, explaining that this is necessary because this sub-sector is capital intensive.
While the 27 federal universities would be given one Mercedes MBO 1721 Busscars and one 30-seater bus each, the 21 polytechnics would get two 30-seater buses each and the 21 Colleges of Education would also be given two 30-seater buses each.
The vehicles are provided with comprehensive insurance cover and motor tracking device. According to the Permanent Secretary, consideration was given to local assembly, popularity, strong after-sales back-up, good track record of performance in Nigeria environment, ease of maintenance and availability in selecting the vehicles.
The Director, Tertiary Education of the Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Jamila Shuâ€™ara said the special intervention of providing mass transit to tertiary institutions is timely, adding that the initiative speaks volume of the determination of the Federal Government to cater for the needs of its tertiary institutions.
Prof. Ignatius Uvah of the National Universities Commission said the intervention will go a long way in quality service delivery in the institutions, adding that quality can only be gotten through availability of resources.
Uvah urged the vice-chancellors, provosts and rectors of the federal tertiary institutions, many of whom were present at the launch, to ensure that the vehicles are put into good use, reiterating that the buses will contribute to the efficiency of the benefitting tertiary institutions.