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Student transport system might remain a pipedream until late next year

by Shasimana Uugulu


Government does not have the resources to implement the Student Transport System (STS) and the Ministry of Education is pinning its hopes on the next expenditure budget, Education Permanent Secretary Alfred Ilukena has revealed.
The idea of a bus shuttle for students was mooted at this year’s national education conference, which saw a number of resolutions aimed at bringing overall improvement within the education sector, passed.
 “I am not in a position to comment on whether the ministry will go ahead with the implementation of the students transport system or not. At the moment, we do not have funds available for this project and everything will depend on whether the Government will make resources available for it in the next financial year,” said Ilukena.
A technical team comprising officials from his ministry and the Windhoek municipality have had discussions to formulate strategies to ensure that the project comes to fruition when the resources are made available.
Cabinet has already given its approval for the implementation of all the resolutions taken at the conference and recommended that a committee be formed to oversee the implementation process.
The conference, which was organised under the leadership of the Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo, brought together educational experts who deliberated on the challenges facing the sector and how they should be tackled to bring positive results within the sector.
Some of the resolutions taken at the conference called for effective leadership at all levels of the education sector, improvement of vocational training education and increased funding for adult education.
Students have long complained that without a proper transport system in place, they remain subjected to an expensive taxi operators industry as some of the students have to commute to and from campuses from as far as Katutura.
Outgoing Unam SRC President, Francine Muyumba told The Villager that students have been hoping that the implementation of the bus shuttle will become a reality before the end of the year.
She, however, added that student leaders remain positive that Government will implement this project next year by the time the higher learning institutions open for the new academic year.
 “We do not understand why the Ministry and the Municipality have delayed the implementation but we remain optimistic that come next year, it will be up and running,” said Muyumba.
The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) Secretary for Information and Publicity, Trevor Chika, said that student leaders will meet the Deputy Minister of Education, David Namwandi next week to inquire on the progress of the implementation of the bus transport services.
  “We do not want a situation where tertiary institutions open next year and students still end up facing similar transport challenges. We need to push for the implementation of this system as it is in the interests of students, particularly those from previously disadvantaged communities,” said Chika.
If successfully implemented, the shuttle service will see about 32 000 students in Windhoek ferried to and from campuses using municipal buses.
The 65-seater busses will be transporting around 5 000 students of the International University of Management (IUM), 12 000 of the Polytechnic of Namibia and close to 14 000 of Unam.
The City of Windhoek during its council meeting on 29 June this year said its Department of Transportation had set a N$40m for the purchase of 20 new buses.