Promise fulfilled, says Abang Jo

File Photo: Abang Johari (third left), with (from left) Lee, Azmi, Dr Sim, Abdul Rahman, Dr Jerip and Sharifah Hasidah give the thumbs-up to the free school bus programme.

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has fulfilled his promise to provide free school bus service for students in urban areas, starting with about 30 schools in the Kuching-Padawan area.

“We want to help our people, especially those in the low-income group. With this programme, we can reduce their burden in paying for bus fares to send their children to school and the children will not face any problems in getting to school,” he said.

He was speaking at the launch of free school bus service at SMA Creative Heritage Innovation Centre here on Wednesday.

The chief minister noted that some families, depending on the number of children, could spend about RM100 to RM200 or more from their monthly income on school bus fares.

“Parents can therefore save about RM100 to RM200 per month and this can be used for other necessities and bills,” he said.

Abang Johari said that the free school bus service programme would eventually be expanded to other urban regions such as Miri, Sibu and Bintulu.

“Kuching is a pilot project. Once efficient, next will be Miri and Sibu within this year. Actually, they are already doing the groundwork now because we have to make arrangements with the bus operators. Once everything is ready, then we will implement it,” he said.

According to Abang Johari, the programme costs RM5 million per year for the Kuching-Padawan area, so further extensions to other urban areas would incur more costs.

“We have sufficient budget to help the needy people,” he assured.

Meanwhile, he said that Yayasan Sarawak, which manages the free school bus service, has played its role by providing uniforms for students as well as financial aid and scholarships for excellent students to further their studies.

“This means that now, we have provided from day one right up to the tertiary level, including the logistics aspect,” said Abang Johari.

Also present at the event were Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, assistant ministers and Yayasan Sarawak director Azmi Bujang among others.