ISLAMABAD: The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and the Ministry of Education have still not hired drivers to run all the 200 buses procured under the Prime Minister’s Education Reform Programme in 2018.
The buses had been purchased in haste without getting approval for the sanctioned posts of drivers and their helping staff and fuel facility.
Newly-appointed FDE Director General Dr Ikram Ali Malik during a briefing on Friday was informed that most of the buses were parked unused in many educational institutions as schools and colleges did not have drivers and fuel to run them.
“I was told that the education ministry has formed a committee to look into the issue, which has proposed various options to operate the buses,” Mr Malik told Dawn.
He said the FDE and the ministry will resolve the issue soon in the greater interest of the students.
Sources said the buses should have been procured after getting approval of posts and budget for fuel but the then PML-N government procured the buses only.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood told Dawn that a committee formed to look into the issue had proposed some options which are under consideration.
He said the committee in its initial draft had proposed approving new posts from the government to start the operation or outsourcing their operations.
“The final decision is yet to be taken as the committee is exploring some other options as well but personally I am not in favour of outsourcing the operation of buses,” he said. The minister said soon the matter would be resolved.
Most of the educational institutions started plying buses under temporary arrangements through daily-wage drivers and cleaners.
But later, most of them stopped the services. In those institutions where the bus service is available, students are paying a monthly fee ranging from Rs500 to Rs1,000, enabling the schools and colleges to pay salary to temporary drivers and bear the fuel cost.
Sources in the FDE said the best option available with the ministry was to get approval of regular drivers and cleaners and students should be charged on a subsidised rate and the amount so collected spent on fuel.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2020