Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Support for Transport and Logistics Charity Extends Beyond Supply of Equipment

Training for Mechanics to Support the Saving of Lives in Africa
Shipping News Feature
ZAMBIA – UK – Go-Ahead, the local bus operator which has evolved into one of the UK's major passenger carriers tells us that one of its staff, Senior Vehicle Engineer Robert Watson, has completed his first placement with international development charity, Transaid's Professional Driver Training programme. The voluntary secondment delivered an intensive mechanical training course designed to help improve road safety and reduce the number of transport-related deaths in Africa.

The placement was part of Go-Ahead’s wider commitment to supporting international development organisation Transaid. Earlier this year, Go-Ahead London donated a 2006 Dennis Dart Pointer single decker bus to Transaid’s partners, the Industrial Training Centre (ITC) in Lusaka, the only government-backed commercial driver training centre in Zambia.

Training drivers is one aspect but mechanical failure could stymie the operation of the vehicle so Watson used his time in-country to train six mechanics on the correct maintenance procedures and operation of the bus, which will be used to teach both new and existing commercial drivers, as well as increasing the ITC’s training capacity.

The work focused on helping the ITC mechanics have a better understanding of maintenance, repairs and safety of the vehicle through a combination of classroom-based theory and practical exercises in the workshop. Speaking on his time in Zambia, Watson said:

“In my opinion, the most valuable thing I have passed on to them is about increasing safety. These guys are not short of knowledge in mechanics in any shape or form, but a lot of the safety standards we uphold here in the UK are more relaxed in Zambia. It’s about demonstrating best practice and reinforcing why this is so important.”

Transaid partnered with the ITC in August 2008 to help raise the professional standards of HGV, PSV and forklift driver training. Transaid’s corporate partners have, as so often in the past, stepped up to provide valuable resources including buses, trucks, trailers, forklifts and, indeed, staff over the last decade.

Since the launch of its first Professional Driver Training programme, Transaid has supported the teaching of more than 40,000 professional drivers across Africa, and is currently working on projects in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Zambia. Transaid’s Chief Executive, Caroline Barber, commented:

“Road traffic deaths kill 1.35 million people every year, and a disproportionate burden falls in low and middle income countries. Go-Ahead’s support for our programmes is vital for increasing education and awareness around road safety and driving forward the current standards of training available.

“Our sincere thanks to Robert and the Go-Ahead team for their generous donation of the vehicle and staff time to help the driving instructors carry out their everyday work. This will make a huge impact on the ground.”

Photo: Robert Watson, Go Ahead’s Senior Vehicle Engineer (fourth from the left) with mechanics from the Professional Driver Training programme in Zambia.