By Our Reporter
Uganda’s Ministry of Transport has initiated plans to review and amend the current Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1998. According to Aggrey Bagiire, the State Minister for Transport, through this amendment, the Government shall put in place and enforce a comprehensive driver and testing regime. This will include adopting groupings of vehicles for driving licenses that are harmonized in order to have a driving regime that tallies with other partner states in the EAC Region.
Bagiire who was launching the Professional Heavy Duty Driver training course in Kampala said last year 2016, about 3,503 persons were killed in road crashes while 10,981 were seriously injured. According to the Annual Traffic Police Report, human factors or road user behaviors accounted for 81% of the total road crashes.
“I am happy to learn that this Project has been tailored to the East African Community (EAC) Driver Training Curriculum for Heavy Goods Vehicles and Buses as a training guide as we await the EAC legal framework for its full implementation. This will ensure that our drivers are competitive and recognized within the region and possibly internationally. I further urge you to make use of the Training Manuals for medium and heavy goods vehicles and buses developed by my Ministry in line with the EAC Driver Training Curriculum for Heavy Goods Vehicles and Buses,” he said.
The Professional Driver Training-Uganda project will build skills of local trainers who in turn will train 800 drivers to a level that meets regional standards.
The training is tailor-made for industry needs and will surpass all the currently available training in Uganda in quality and relevance.
This standardized training seeks to enhance employability of drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and Passenger Service Vehicle (PSVs), within the transport and logistics sector. It means that PDT-U can offer promising opportunities for drivers and truck drivers that are looking for a career in the industry.
It is being implemented by GIZ E4D/SOGA – Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa, Safe Way Right Way (SWRW) and Transaid, with support from industry partners, and in partnership with the Government of Uganda. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
Bagiire said Uganda being a member of the United Nations, is a signatory to the UN General Assembly Resolution of 10 May 2010, that proclaims the period 2011–2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety; with a goal to stabilize and reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities by 50% around the world by increasing activities conducted at National, Regional and Global levels.
The Action is premised on five (5) Pillars namely: Road Safety Management, Safer Roads and Mobility, Safer Vehicles, Safer Road Users, and Post-Crash Care.
This Professional Driver Training is key to Uganda’s Oil and Gas sector as it will provide the needed skills required by drivers who will drive Heavy Duty Trucks that will transport logistics for the sector.
Bagiire said driving competence and knowledge is a key foundation on road safety that demonstrates the driver’s abilities to use the road.
“A well -structured driver training and testing regime ensures that this knowledge and skills are acquired before road use. Driving of Heavy Goods Vehicles and Passenger Service vehicles requires special skills largely due to their size and pay volume/load. Uganda has only two driving schools that are registered to provide professional training for drivers of commercial heavy goods vehicles and buses. This is due to the fact that investment in such training facilities, equipment and skilling Instructors is a capital-intensive venture by all standards,” Bagiire added.
Florentin de Loppinot, the Chairman Safe Way Right Way said they target to have safer drivers hence safer roads with quicker post-crash response and at least 3% of the trained drivers will be women.
Bagiire said this is the right time that driving of Commercial Vehicles in Uganda became a Profession just like elsewhere in the world.
“We should therefore adopt a standard curriculum that is regionally and internationally recognized,” he concluded.
Nyambura is a senior journalist based in Kampala