BY IRWIN ANGIKI
Mbokona and White River schools are the latest to receive brand new three-tonne trucks from the West Honiara Constituency Office.
In a boisterous handover ceremony yesterday at the White River school, the principals of both schools received the vehicle keys.
This is part of the constituency office’s commitment to schools in West Honiara, which saw three schools receive a new three-tonne truck each in 2016 from the constituency office – Bishop Epalle, St John and Tamlan.
Yesterday’s donation costs a total of $685,500 – which West Honiara Constituency had sourced from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) national transport fund.
Both principals thank the MP for West Honiara, Namson Tran for the donations, which they describe as one of their schools’ main needs.
White River Principal, Hampton Bekepio underscores why it is important that a school has its own truck.
Bekepio says White River staff, students, parents and guardians have depended on public transportation, and private transport, for all activities relating to school matters.
However, he points out that one area which demands that the school has its own truck, and that public transport cannot help out in, is during times of natural disaster.
“There are critical situations and circumstances in which using public transportation will not be readily accessible or available to students and staff.
“For instance, in times of natural disasters such as earthquake, tsunami, cyclone, flash-flood, etc, schools need to have their own vehicle in order to effectively execute the disaster risk management plan to evacuate the students and teachers safely to their homes.”
In his keynote Bekepio said it has been a long wait and receiving a new truck is counted as one of the school’s milestone achievements since its inception 50 years ago.
Bekepio points out the importance of transportation in education, saying it is an important part in everyday activities relating to education.
“We spend at least 10 minutes travelling from home to work, or to school every day. This is transportation.”
West Honiara Constituency’s donation sees an end to a lot of expenses for the school, Bekepio adds.
“The cost of hiring vehicles to deliver materials to school is quite expensive, and many ongoing school projects were not able to be fully realised due to financial hassles incurred in transportation costs.
“There are some annual events, such as organized sporting activities, world teachers day celebration, school graduation, students and teachers attending various events organized by the government and NGOs, school excursions, and many other programmes, have continued to stretch our limited budget every year around in terms of the cost involved in providing transportation.
“Thus today, we are very happy to receive a new vehicle. Words cannot express our sincere gratitude and joy.
“We have waited many years, since 2016, when the first three vehicles were given to the first three school recipient. Today is the moment we’ve been waiting for.
“We thank MP for West Honiara Constituency Namson Tran for this timely gift. It was worth the wait.”
He also extended the school’s gratitude to the MID for providing funds from the national transport fund initiative.
Mbokona school Principal, Mr Joel Throter, echoes Bekepio’s sentiments, adding that receiving a new truck is also a milestone achievement for his school.
Due to the school’s location, it is quite a walk for staff and students using bus transport from home, and quite costly for taxi users.
With Namson Tran’s donation, this will be reduced, Throter said.
He echoed appreciation and gratitude to West Honiara MP Tran, CDO Brian Taupiri, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, represented at the occasion by deputy permanent secretary Alan Lilia.
On behalf of the West Honiara Constituency Office, CDO Brian Taupiri congratulated the schools and encouraged each one to take care of the trucks.
“Congratulations on your receipt of the new trucks. With this receipt comes responsibility. Please take care of the trucks, service them regularly and keep them in good conditions.
“It is hard for anyone to just give you a new truck.”
He reiterated MP Tran’s vision to support education in his constituency and reassured West Honiara schools of the Constituency office’s ongoing plans to help schools improve their services.
Mr Taupiri said one of MP Tran’s top priorities for his constituency office’s development plans is supporting education.
And, this involves supporting education initiatives, institutions, and programmes within the constituency, Taupiri explains.
“Apart from school fees, the constituency office also helps in logistics support and assistances to improve schools provide their services.”
MID deputy PS Mr Lilia echoed the advice for recipient schools to take care of the trucks.
“On behalf of the MID Minister, and the MID PS, I congratulate the West Honiara Constituency for its successful application to the national transport initiative plan, under MID, to purchase these two vehicles, and the successful handing over today.
“These two vehicles should improve the transportation needs of the two schools.
“To the White River school administration the Mbokona school administration and, please take care of these wonderful gifts to you, take care of them, keep them safe, and make sure they serve their purpose from today and years to come.”
White River and Mbokona school students sure know how to celebrate. Following the handover, a parade to mark the vehicles’ maiden voyage was run, with the trucks filled with jubilant students from both schools.
The parade started from the White River school to the roundabout opposite the Didds refueling station, then back to the respective schools.
The students chanted “Thank you, Namson”, along with their schools’ names as the vehicles weaved in and out of traffic.
The handover was graced by the Constituency Development Officer (CDO) of West Honiara, Brian Taupiri, Honiara City Mayor Eddie Siapu, Councillor for Mbuburu Mostyn Saferio, MID deputy PS Alan Lilia, and staff of the West Honiara Constituency office.