23.12.2010 - Article
Swiss Enlargement Contribution - All of the school busses for Latvian municipalities have been delivered
The last of the total of 110 school busses that were financed out of the funds of the Latvian-Swiss cooperation programme have been delivered to Latvia in december 2010. These busses have made it possible to organize a well-functioning school-transport system in rural, disadvantaged regions of the country.
Against the backdrop of thick forests and wintry fields lying fallow, one couldn’t help but notice them: on the 16th of November, the attention of all persons travelling on the road from Riga to Tukums was drawn to the convoy of twenty-one bright-orange-coloured school busses.
[Bild 1: School busses on the road from Riga to Tukums]
The busses were on their way to being handed over to Latvian municipalities, and are part of the Latvian project for the improvement of school transportation in rural areas which is being co-financed by Switzerland within the scope of the Swiss Enlargement Contribution.
The first busses had already been solemnly handed over on 29 and 30 September to the first three municipalities on the receiving list, i.e., Grobina, Talsi and Madona. In the meantime, all of the 110 school busses have been delivered to their destinations in a total of 59 beneficiary municipalities. This means that some 9000 school children living in isolated, rural areas will be able to benefit from a safe trip to school.
A project very popular among the population of Latvia
This project targeted at improving rural school transportation in Latvia was supported by Switzerland to the tune of a total CHF 16 million, making it the largest Swiss-Latvian project in terms of the volume of funds appropriated, while simultaneously being the first to be successfully concluded.
[Bild 2: School children brimming with joy at the new busses / hand-over of 21 school busses in Tukums]
The project enjoys an exceptional amount of popularity among the Latvian population, for it had become even more urgent that something be done given the financial and economic crisis. Indeed the reforms that had been demanded by the international donors included massive cutbacks in the State budget. This meant that, for one thing, the Government was obliged to close schools, while at the same time significantly reducing subsidies accorded to public transportation. Several bus-line services in the outlying regions had to be curtailed. This in turn rendered it virtually impossible for a good number of school children in rural municipalities to regularly attend their schools which were often located quite a few kilometres away. The Swiss-Latvian project has now filled the bus-service gaps.
Experts confirm correct procedure was followed with public call to tender and awarding of contracts
All of the 59 municipalities that received school busses have committed themselves to defraying the costs for servicing the busses and to providing duly trained chauffeurs. As a function of need, three different types of school busses can be called into operation, i.e., equipped for seating either 19, 27, or 40 passengers, depending on their size.
[Bild 3: School bus seating 19 passengers]
The tendering and awarding procedures were carefully examined and monitored by the Swiss side. Even the procurement division of Postauto AG was called in to assist as consultant. This support was greatly appreciated by the partner organization in Riga as well. The experts confirmed the good quality of the public call to tender and the correct awarding of contracts.
Schoolgirl wins contest and a trip to Switzerland
In the run-up to the tender procedure, the Latvian partner launched a contest in which an appropriately striking logo was to be proposed for the school busses. The competent Latvian authorities thus called upon the school classes to submit their ideas. These proposals were subsequently professionally realized by graphics experts. The prize was awarded to a Latvian teenager who presented the idea of a book on wheels. This secondary school student from the eastern part of Latvia won a trip to Switzerland, and was thus able to come for a visit in May of this year together with her homeroom teacher.
[Bild 4: A book on wheels is chosen as logo for the school busses]
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Swiss Enlargement Contribution: 110 Busses delivered to Latvia
Over the past three months, 110 school busses purchased with the funds of the Latvian-Swiss cooperation programme, have been delivered to Latvia. The busses enable a well-functioning school transportation system to be organized in rural, disadvantaged regions of the country. Some 9000 school children will benefit from the project.