Suleiman, a first-year student of the faculty of Arts usually arrives at school frustrated, weary, and sometimes bruised, especially on days when he has to attend 7 am classes. He would leave his house as early as 6:ooam as he joins others in the daily scramble for busses at a bus stop in the Ajibode community.
Every student of the University of Ibadan has one lamentation or the other. For those living in Ajibode, one of the communities neighboring the university; their frustration is a scarcity of shuttles that convey students to and fro campus. While they engage in rumbles before getting a ride to school early in the morning, they stand in long queues at the university bus terminal in the evening.
Like Suleiman, Raji has missed many classes because he could not get shuttles on time. “Getting a bus from Ajibode to the school campus every morning is always stressful. The non-availability of shuttles sometimes makes me miss important classes. One can wait up to 1:30hr without getting a bus. It is so bad,” he lamented to UCJUI.
“This scramble is a kind of survival of the smartest and fittest, which is not supposed to be. I think school shuttles are leaving the campus for the main purpose of transporting UI Students who live off-campus down to the main campus, but you will find out that majority of the people who later access these few buses are not UI Students but non-students residing in Ajibode. Students who are supposed to attend Lectures are stranded,” Raji continued.
Raji said he almost missed an examination last semester due to the difficulty of getting a shuttle.
“On one very occasion during the last semester, I had a paper by 1:00 pm and I was supposed to be at the venue 30 minutes before the commencement of the exam. I left my home to Ajibode park around 12PM with the intention of getting to school by 12:30 pm that day.
“Coincidentally I met one of the Lecturers who is to supervise the same paper I am rushing to go and write. He had been at the bus stop waiting for a school cab long ago. We both waited till 1:00 pm without finding any cab and I was cashless that very day, it was this Lecturer that eventually helped me with transportation. We both took a bike from Ajibode-Maternity to UI main gate and from UI main gate he also helped me with another transport to our venue of exam.
Due To Transportation Ordeal, Student Turns Squatter
Raji further disclosed that due to the continued pain of shuttling between Ajibode and campus, he now squats in one of the male hostels, an act that could earn him a suspension from the university if caught.
“I am presently squatting with my friend in one of the hostels in School, this has boosted my activities and enabled me to meet up with classes that I normally won’t meet up with when I was staying at Ajibode.”
Oluwaseun, a 100 level student of the Faculty of Arts has a similar experience as Raji and Suleiman.
In his words “Getting a bus to campus from Ajibode is very stressful and time-wasting, most especially for early morning classes. Because a lot of students stay in Ajibode, the bus stop is always crowded yet there are few buses. Oftentimes, people get injured while struggling for seats. I have to get to the Bus stop as early as 6:20 AM so I can get a bus early to avoid getting late to class. The issue is worrisome.”
Jomiloju, a student in the Distance Learning Centre (DLC), who resides in the Ajibode community, said a bus almost crushed her legs in one of those scrambles for buses at the park.
“To get the bus going to the main campus in the morning is not easy at all. If someone finds a bus going to the main campus early in the morning maybe it is by luck.
“A bus tire nearly crushed my leg all because I was rushing to get a bus. The only thing I can say is that the school should help us to plead with the drivers to always consider us.”
Another student, Sunday Noah who described the experience as a tug of war, wonders what the Students Union representatives are doing to address the problem.
“Getting a vehicle to UI is a tug of war early in the morning. I don’t know but what we have our Students’ Union for if they cannot find a way to regulate the transportation from Ajibode to the school. Now, every morning we need to fight and March ourselves before we can have a say.”
“As it is now; if you are going for an 8 AM class you need to leave one hour earlier because it is assumed that you need to wait for 45 minutes before you get a cab or a bus.
MASCOT Proposes Solution
When UCJUI reached out to the President-Elect of the Students’ Union, Adewole Adeyinka (Mascot), he proposed solutions that may mitigate the transportation woes of students living in the Ajibode community.
“I have been working on that and what we agree to do is to station four buses at Ajibode park and it is these buses that would permanently be at the community [Ajibode] so that they would be able to convene students early in the morning down to the school and the last bus stop would be at the Book Shop so that they can easily turn back and pick other passengers down to Ajibode.
“Assuming the union bus is working, we would have used that but the plan is going to start before the examination.”
Furthermore, he claimed that another problem that affects the easy accessibility of buses by students is the rate at which the residents in this community who are non-students also jostle for seats.
“What we are planning to do is use the school ID cards and we are going to be using a queue over there and gradually we are getting there especially towards the examination,” He said.
Meanwhile, UCJUI reached out to the chairman of the bus drivers twice but he was not available in the office to speak with our correspondent.