By Jacinta Nwachukwu
Ochenuell Mobility in partnership with Global Designing Cities Initiative has expressed concern over provision of safe walking and cycling routes for school children as such will promote healthy living among students.
Mr Emmanuel John, the Executive Director of Ochenuell Mobility, expressed the concern in an interview with newsmen at the ongoing stakeholders forum on “Safe Streets to School Abuja Project” in Abuja.
John said that the project was targeted at developing the culture of cycling to school in Nigeria particularly in Abuja with a view of de-emphasizing motorising and its consequences such as traffic congestions, emissions and crashes among others.
“In the next five years Abuja will be the centre of cycling because our advocacy has reached that peak where everybody is getting involved, at the federal level and state level.
“The obvious fact is that students are struggling, we have watched students having difficulty going to school because there has not been focal attention to them.
“Some of them trek 10 km to go to school and 10 km to come back. This is one of the reasons for the massive failure among students,” he said.
John explained that it was for this reason that the organisation felt that there should be solution to the complex problem the students and parents were facing.
“Hence, we advocate that a bicycle should be given to every child as well as provide the enabling environment that will ensure their safety when they ride the bicycle to school so they won’t be knocked down by the car,” he said.
John said that in order to promote this initiative, the leadership should lead by example.
He said if all the authorities are riding, they will also provide the facilities that will make the cyclists safe and comfortable.
Mrs Gloria Oche, Director, Gender and Diversity of the organisation, said that the project basically was to bring back cycling to life especially for schoolchildren.
“We have realised from our research that most of these kids trek to school, some are dropped off in school by their parents.
“We want to encourage more students to ride bicycle to school rather than take public transport or being dropped off in school considering its benefits,” Oche said.
She also said that the organisation would encourage female students to dress decently having in mind that they were going to ride bicycle to school.
Earlier, Mr Durojaiye Babawale, the Assistant Director, Public Transport Monitoring Department of Road Traffic Services, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said the project was aimed at encouraging safe streets for kids to ride bicycles to school.
“Riding bicycle for children and for anybody is healthy and it encourages activities which help to maintain healthy life.
“Apart from that, we want to encourage non-motorised means of transportation system within our system so that we can reduce traffic congestions on the road while improving the health of people,” Babawale said.
On his part, Mr Abdullahi Candido, Secretary, Transportation, FCT, while commending the management of the organisation said that schoolchildren deserve seamless, active and affordable mobility as they commute to school and back daily.
According to Candido, parents and guardians already have enough on their heads but are encumbered with providing transport for their kids by driving them to school daily.
“Or giving them money for commercial transport which could have been used for something better in the face of the harsh economic situation we are faced with.
“School premises and environments can change significantly especially during peak hours if a significant number of students ride bicycle to school,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the programme was the presentation of bicycles to Candido and others by the management of Ochenuell Mobility. (NAN)(www.nanews.ng)
Edited by Razak Owolabi