Transporting children to safety
After a relatively exhausting day at school, eight-year-old Julleen Gonteb is ready to go home to prepare for the next school day. The third grader is one of 18 children transported by ‘Kids Shuttle Services’, a new kid on the block in the transportation industry.
Unlike most transport services, Kids Shuttle Services focuses on transporting children to and from school. This makes it easy for parents who do not have the luxury of daily transporting their children due to the hustle and bustle of life.
Julleen’s father, Enrico Clive Gonteb, says having a busy work schedule means he cannot always drive his son to and from school. His wife is just as busy, hence, they had arranged for Julleen to go to school using the services of the “Kids shuttle”.
“The ‘Kids shuttle’ has made life easier for us (family) because we can attend to other business while they take the child to school,” Gonteb said. He started using the shuttle service this year and before that he tried three different taxis to transport his child to school. Gonteb said the ordinary taxi services failed him one too many times.
“I’ve tried taking my child to school with normal taxis but they are not reliable. Taxis are cheaper but I went out of my way to pay double just so that my child can go to school on time, but they still disappointed me. Taxis are involved in the majority of accidents,” Gonteb motivated on why he chose to use the services of ‘Kids shuttle’ as a means of transportation for his school-going child.
Gonteb further explained the pick-up and drop-off times are scheduled in such a way that his child arrives at school on time and also arrives at home on time.
“They pick up the kids at a time when there is less traffic,” added Gonteb. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Lorenz Gilge and his friend and schoolmate, 16-year-old Johan Jan Louw, who are both in Grade 10 said they prefer to be transported to and from school using shuttle services.
“We prefer this because we get the perfect opportunity to chat and catch up with our friends while we are on our way home and vice versa,” said Louw. Gilge added: “It arrives at home on time.”
However, Julleen does not agree that the shuttle arrives on time. “Sometimes I go home late,” added Julleen. However, 32-year-old Alfa Sililo, the brains behind the shuttle business explained the delay is caused mostly among the younger children who are always playing after school instead of waiting for their transport to take them home.
“You know how small children are,” he adds.
Nevertheless, Sililo is adamant that this is the first business of this kind in Namibia. Having a tourism background, Sililo who previously owned airport shuttles said the idea was birthed from the fact there were no shuttle services specifically meant to transport children to school and home.
“The main problem with taxis is that they are not always reliable,” said Sililo, explaining that his business has a system in place where parents and the drivers sign contracts, which include the safety of children.
“Last year I started this (business) as a trial and error but I see that it is really bearing fruit,” a proud Sililo said in an interview with New Era this week.
The ‘Kids shuttle’ caters for children as young as two years old up until 18 years. In the case of toddlers who are transported to day care centres, a nanny has to be onboard just to create a sense of safety for the little ones.
“Our customers are from various locations in Windhoek,” said Sililo who has two drivers working for him. These locations include Khomasdal, Otjomuise, Pionierspark, Dorado Valley and Cimbebasia.
Sililo, who is the operations manager of his company, says that in the near future plans are to extend his services to other parts of the country. At the moment, Sililo said, there are only two vehicles transporting the children to their destination.
“As the need arises we will also increase the number of vehicles. We can take up to six children. We have a six-seater and a sedan,” he added. He prides himself on the fact that parents who make use of the services are comfortable enough to trust him with the duty of transporting their children.
“I always remind my drivers to adhere to the speed limits and both of them are licensed drivers. I have an older guy and a young one,” said Sililo who hails from the Zambezi Region.
Asked on what his message is to young people, the father of two said: “Life was not made to be easy and therefore we cannot sit and expect things to go well for us without doing anything. Let’s try to work hard to achieve our dreams. The past does not determine our future, so regardless of how poor your background is you can change the past.”