The growing fuel scarcity across the country is taking a toll on smooth academic operations, resulting in late resumption of both pupils and teachers in schools.
Checks revealed that many parents of pupils in private schools now resort to public transport such as cabs, buses, and even motorbikes as school buses queue up for hours in filling stations.
Our correspondent gathered that since the fuel crisis started, schools have been appealing to parents and guardians, whose wards normally ride in school buses, to assist in providing transportation means for the children whenever the buses run out of petrol.
A mother of two, Mrs Ramat Akindele, who spoke to our correspondent on the phone, said her kids, who attend a private school in the Ogba area of Lagos, went to school in a public bus on Thursday morning (today).
She said, “The school proprietor sent a message to parents via WhatsApp around 7am today that the school buses are in filling stations struggling to get fuel and begged us to find a means to bring the children to school.
“I had to take my children to a bus stop to board a bus. It was very difficult before we even got one because a lot of people were struggling for a few available buses. They got to school around 9am whereas they are supposed to resume before 8am. Instead of the usual N100 fare per passenger from the bus stop in Ojodu, the driver charged N300.”
Also, a text sent by the head teacher of another private school in Lagos to parents, and obtained by our correspondent, confirmed the biting effect of the scarcity on the school activities.
The message read, “We are displeased to inform our parents whose children are on transport that owing to fuel scarcity, the school buses will not be coming to pick any child. The buses are still in filling stations struggling to get fuel. We regret all inconveniences.
“We would appreciate it if our parents could help drop the children in the school this morning (Thursday) while we hope we are able to fuel the buses before the closing hour today.”
The Admin Officer, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Mr John Seike, said both pupils and teachers were affected by the fuel scarcity, adding that schools running on generators had been badly hit.
According to Seike, pupils now go through a lot of stress taking public transport to school, noting that the stress could hinder effective learning.
He said, “It is biting hard on everybody. There are some schools that run basically on generators because of their locations. It is difficult for them to operate at this time. Most private schools use buses to pick their students; they are finding it difficult to get fuel now. You have the money but you can’t even get access to filling stations. It is a big challenge for every private school.
“There are a lot of occasions when school buses can’t pick up students at their various homes in the morning because there is no fuel. Most of the schools under NAPPS are thinking of how to discuss with parents and some are already doing it, talking to parents to assist in bringing their children to school.
“But the problem is that even for parents who have cars, they also have to struggle to get fuel. Even the scarcity is biting hard on school staff; it is difficult for them to get to school. It is affecting a lot of things. The resumption time is not as usual. The children are already stressed out before they get to the school.”
Fuel crisis resurfaced in the country over a month ago, with Abuja and Lagos among the areas worst hit by the scarcity initially likened to imported dirty fuel.
As the Federal Government battled to resolve the problem, Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 compounded it as oil vessels coming into Nigeria from the warring region face delay.
A number filling stations now sell above the pump price of N165/litre while ‘black market’ holds sway, with one litre being sold for as much as N500.