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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) does not have drivers for the 50 school buses it received as part of the second phase of the Prime Minister’s Education Reform Program.

The directorate was to receive 130 buses in the second phase but the 50 it has so far are parked in various colleges.

FDE officials told Dawn the directorate does not have drivers or cleaners which is why the buses have been parked.

In the first phase, the FDE procured 70 buses and hired drivers and cleaners for them on contract basis. Sources said many of these drivers have since resigned due to low salaries as those who have licences to operate heavy transport vehicles were paid just Rs14,000 a month.

“We will receive some 80 buses in the next few months and we are trying to get approval for hiring some 200 drivers for smooth operations,” said FDE Director Administration Dr Tariq Masood.

Asked about some of the drivers resigning, Dr Masood said the directorate will now recommend reasonable salaries for all drivers.

The FDE had placed an order for 130 buses in April for the second phase of the reforms program and had paid Rs800 million in advance to a private firm.

The education reform program was announced by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Dec 2015 for the educational institutions of Islamabad.

The program was to be conducted in three phases. During the first phase, 22 schools were renovated after which it faced delays and the renovation of the next 200 schools as part of the second phase was halted in June due to a shortage of funds. Some 74pc of the work had been completed.

FDE Director General Hasnat Qureshi said the contractor has said 80 schools have been completed and will be handed over soon.

“FDE’s committees are checking these schools and we will take over the schools based on the recommendation of the committees,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018