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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, July 15: The Sarawak government is allocating RM5 million per year for free school bus services in Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Padawan areas starting August 3, revealed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He added that similar services will soon be introduced to Sibu, Bintulu and Miri once the details have been worked out with the additional budget to be made available.
“Today, I have fulfilled my promise to give free school bus service to our children, initially in Kuching area which involved 32 schools that will benefit 3,000 students.
“We introduced this free school bus service in urban areas to ease the financial burdens of parents especially B40, who have to spend quite a substantial sum of money every month on school bus service for children,” Abang Johari said in his speech at the launching of Free School Bus Services at Padang Merdeka here today.
He disclosed that he had wanted the free school bus services to start in March but it had to be postponed due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) triggered by Covid-19 pandemic.
“We actually wanted to introduce it earlier but we can’t due to Covd-19 pandemic. So we will start on August 3 when school reopens as there are still cases of Covid-19,” he said.
Abang Johari, who is also Finance Minister stressed that he introduced the free school bus services to assist the B40 group to cope with the increasing cost of living.
“After hearing a man who told me of his hardship to send two of his children to school due to the increasing cost of bus serves, I decided to give free bus services to everyone who has school-going children,” he said, adding that, it was included in the budget which he announced last year.
The chief minister disclosed that the free school bus services has a tracking system to ensure students would know the actual timing of the bus services.
“The tracking system will have an app to allow parents and students to know the time schedule of free school buses services passing through their areas,” he said.
He also thanked Yayasan Sarawak for implementing the free bus service programme which would definitely ease the financial burden of parents.
“I want to see our children to do well in school. After all, Yayasan Sarawak can assist those who excel from primary school right up to tertiary level,” he said.
Earlier, Yayasan Sarawak director officer Azmi Bujang said that the programme was implemented in collaboration with other government agencies such as the State Ministry of Transport, Education department, Kuching South City Council (MBKS), Kuching North City Hall (DBKU), Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and Commercial Vehicle Licencing Board.
He said the programme will involve 46 buses and vans with a capacity of between 2,800 to 3,000 passengers per day covering 18 zones with a total of 22 routes to serve some 32 primary and secondary schools Kuching, Kota Samarahan and Padawan areas.
The 18 zones comprise of the City Centre; Satok; Matang; Pendin; Buntal; Semariang, Sungai Midin, Semerah Padi; Jalan Merdeka; Gita Laut; Taman Lee Ling; SK Muhibba; Pulau Salak, Pasir Panjang and Pasir Pandak; Jalan Astana; Rampangi; Malihah; Boyan, Gersik and Sourabaya Ulu; Desa Wira; Tabuan and Bako. —DayakDaily.