KUCHING: Sarawak will introduce a free school bus service for students in Kuching next year.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the service would be based on the hop-on, hop-off concept, where students can hop on the bus at any point along the route and hop off at their respective schools.
“This idea was mooted from our recognition of the financial burden faced by low-income families in urban areas in meeting the cost of transportation to school.
“This service will also help to ease traffic congestion in the city,” he said when tabling the 2020 state budget in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly here on Monday (Nov 4).
Abang Johari said the free school bus service would be implemented in Kuching as a pilot initiative.
“It will be introduced to other densely populated cities in Sarawak, such as Bintulu, Miri and Sibu, when the need arises,” he said.
The Chief Minister also announced that the state government will introduce a free water programme effective Jan 1 next year to help reduce the rakyat’s financial burden.
Under this programme, every household in both urban and rural areas will enjoy free water for the first RM5 of their monthly bill.
This will involve an allocation of RM40mil and will benefit an estimated 600,000 households statewide.
In addition, Abang Johari said RM30mil will be allocated to help Sarawakian graduates pay back their National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans.
He said the state government empathised with graduates who faced difficulties in repaying their loans and would work out a mechanism to assist them.
“Kesian (pity them), they thought it would be abolished in the manifesto, so the state government has to help them,” he said, in a dig at the Pakatan Harapan federal government.
Abang Johari also announced additional assistance for mothers for post-natal care, with RM18mil allocated for this purpose.
Under this scheme, mothers will receive RM450 upon giving birth, effective Jan 1 next year.
This comes on top of the RM1,000 incentive for newborn Sarawakian babies introduced this year.
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