Truck drivers in Uganda are to undergo refresher driving courses in the next two months as one of ways of minimizing accidents, Baylon Kinene, the Chairperson of the Regional Lorry Drivers and Transport Association (RLDTA) has revealed.
Kinene told this publication in an interview that several accidents have been caused by truck inexperienced drivers handling and managing trucks. He says several truck drivers graduated from taxis out of the blue fond themselves cruising heavy vehicles.
RLDTA is currently training over 10 instructors who will be visiting different regions to equip truck drivers with basic knowledge like what to do before they start a truck for a journey, how to react when the truck develops mechanical related issues on the road and what to consider when driving on a road occupied by both small and big vehicles.
“We have started training truck drivers and we have started with instructors. We want any person who sits behind a truck steering to be trained on how to drive it. Drivers are the one who cause accidents but not the drivers. Trucks follow what you instruct it to do,” Kinene said.
Citing an example of the Ford truck registration number UAA 497L that lost control on April 24, 2019 killing three people and injuring 27 others at Kira Road junction, Kinene said truck drivers must always check the mechanical conditions of their trucks before driving.
Much as Kinene says the truck driver was not a member of RLDTA, he says all information they have got indicates the driver lacked expertise in truck driving and never bothered to check its status.
“People are driving trucks without the required knowledge and skills. We have decided to bridge this gap by using Graben and Safeway Right Way instructors to train truck drivers. We want every person to drive trucks must be trained. We shall keep monitoring the schools they went to,” Kinene adds.
He also says many Ford trucks and others came into Uganda around 1980s and have been on the roads for close to 40 years, he believes the age of the truck isn’t an important issue to focus on but focus should be on how often they get serviced.
“What is important is not the number plate but what is the serving status. The driver must know the condition of his truck. That truck [UAA 497L) was in bad shape. It driver was not a member of our association. He is now a suspect, he feels guilty he killed people and he is in hiding. All this could have been avoided if he was trained on truck handling,” Kinene says.
Kinene calls for political support in order to ensure all truck drivers are trained. He applauds the Works Ministry that is proposing to register vehicles, placing traffic offence penalties on drivers’ permits, saying it will improve discipline.
Winstone Katushabe, the Commissioner Transport Regulation and Safety in the Works and Transport Ministry, announced on Monday that penalties are no longer to be placed on car owners but drivers.
Katushabe said several car owners are not aware that drivers commit traffic offences, a reason why some cars have outstanding penalties worth Shs13 million yet its economic value is Shs8 million.