SAFE WAY RIGHT WAY COVID-19 Prevention for HGV Drivers Project Launch
On Wednesday, 12th August 2020, at the TOTAL Uganda Limited Head Office on 8th Street, Industrial Area, Safe Way Right Way (SWRW) in partnership with TOTAL Uganda launched the third edition of the annual Professional Driver Training project at a ceremony presided over by the Minister of Works and Transport represented by the Director of Transport, Eng. Benon Kajuna.
SWRW together with its public and private partnerships and collaborations has secured financial support to provide COVID-19 Prevention Packages to Truck drivers in Uganda, an initiative to be run under this year’s Professional Driver Training project. Since 2018, SWRW has been implementing this project in partnership with Transaid UK, Uganda Professional Drivers Network, and Amalgamated Transporters & General Workers Union, with funding from Employment for Development program supported by the German and Norwegian Governments.
The recent emergence of the Global Pandemic caused by the novel Corona Virus greatly hampered the duties of Uganda’s Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) truck drivers. HGV Drivers are more likely to contract and spread the COVID19 virus because drivers cover long distances along major cargo routes, where the risk of interaction within extensive social networks is high. This including crowded places such as border towns, major trading centers, or sea/inland ports where the probability of contact with infected persons may be increased.
It is public knowledge that that Road transport continues to be the most important mode of transportation in Uganda as it carries more than 90% of freight cargo hence vital for the delivery of essential foods, medicines, and trade; however, the race to control the COVID-19 outbreak in Uganda has left Truck drivers and Cargo transporters under greater scrutiny and marginalization by the masses in some areas.
It’s on this backdrop that Safe Way Right Way working with the Uganda Professional Drivers Network (UPDN) and Amalgamated Transporters and General Workers Union (ATWGU), have set out to provide COVID-19 prevention packages to Heavy Goods Drivers (HGV) drivers in the border districts of:
- Busia at Busia border point,
- Tororo at Malaba border point,
- Kyotera at Mutukula border point and Masaka at Lukaya town,
- Pakwach at Pakwach Health Centre 4, and
- Amuru district at Elegu border point.
As part of the Project, Safe Way Right Way and its partners will be distributing COVID-19 prevention packages/kits to more than 3,000 HGV drivers, and these will include:
- Stickers with key messages on prevention against transmission and contraction of COVID19,
- Face Masks and
- Soap for up to 3,500 drivers.
The project also aims to reach at least 10,000 drivers through radio and social media platforms with key messages on the prevention of COVID19.
Director of Transport Hon. Benon Kajuna Ministry of Works and transport who was representing the Minister of Works and Transport commended Safe Way Right Way for offering Clear leadership in supporting HGV drivers in the fight against the Corona Virus.
While attending the function, Peter Tibigambwa, the Chief Executive Officer of Safe Way Right Way shared that the project has developed driver-specific factsheets, radio spot messages as well as short information videos to be sent to drivers’ phones to raise awareness and reduce the risk of exposure.
“We have set a target to reach more than 10,000 HGV drivers through this medium.”
Furthermore, the project with supervision from the Ministry of Health will also train 16 Field Officers who will be present at the seven (7) driver rest stops and border posts including; Busia at Busia border point, Tororo at Malaba border point, Kyotera at Mutukula border point and Masaka at Lukaya town, Pakwach at Pakwach Health Centre 4, and Amuru district at Elegu border point.
Oliver Wells, the managing Director of Bollore Transport & Logistics Uganda, who is also a SWRW board member expressed concern over challenges the Transport & Logistics sector has faced since being identified as one the high-risk groups for COVID19 in Uganda thus the launch of the project being a timely initiative and a huge milestone for SWRW and the Transport and Logistics sector.
Jonathan Muteta, the Finance manager Total Uganda who was representing the Managing Director, TOTAL Uganda says this is project is very important to Total Uganda because it is well aligned with Total’s commitment to Safety; which includes Health for the Total team; partners and Ugandans at large.
The event was concluded with a ceremonial hand over of the prevention packages that will be distributed to the truck drivers at the targeted border points.
About Safe Way Right Way
SWRW is an NGO established through collaboration between the World Bank’s Global Road Safety partnerships and Total to improve road safety in Uganda.
Mr. Jonathan Muteta outlined the journey of TOTAL Uganda and SWRW commenting that “Since its inception in 2013, at Total, we have been very happy to share our space and see Safe Way Right Way grow over the years. The Milestones we have achieved with Safe Way Right Way and our other private and public sector partners who are here with us today are indeed remarkable, and these include:”
- Carrying out over 10 road safety inspections over the last 3 years on national highways and made recommendations on how to improve safety.
- Implemented road safety campaigns including working with traffic police and drivers on highways.
- Conducted school zone campaigns to prevent accidents among young road users.
- Established an HGV professional driver training center to influence the quality of driving on the road – The professional Driver Training Uganda Project.
- Trained and graduated more than 250 Heavy Goods Drivers over the last 2 and half years, and
- Supported more than 10 driver training schools to improve their standard to providing East African Community certified driver training.
Remarks from Minister of Works & Transport (Hon. Benon Kajuna – Director of Transport)
Director of Transport Hon. Benon Kajuna started his speech with an emphasis of two critical aspects required for a successful fight against COVID-19; Clear leadership and Discipline, “SWRW has given us clear leadership and adherence to stipulated Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines is the discipline I am talking about” the Honorable minister stressed.
Hon. Benon Kajuna representing the Minister of Works and Transport continued to deliver Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala’s speech in his absentia,
“I would like to appreciate Safe Way Right Way for this initiative and the continued partnership with the Government to improve Road Safety in Uganda, since 2013.”
Safe Way Right Way has worked with Uganda Professional Drivers Network (UPDN) and Amalgamated Transporters and General Workers Union (ATWGU) to offer Personal Protective Equipment packages to Heavy Goods Vehicle Drivers in the Boarder districts of;
1. Busia at the Busia border point
2. Tororo at the Malaba border point
3. Kyotera at the Mutukula border point
4. Masaka at Lukaya town,
5. Pakwach at Pakwach Health Centre 4
6. Amuru district at Elegu border point.
COVID-19 severely affected the World and Uganda has registered most of its cases from Truck drivers, according to reports from the Ministry of Health. Whereas many Ugandans had wanted to block out all cargo drivers due to the increased risk they were seemingly posing to the community, Government has continued to work around the clock to ensure that the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 within and outside cargo drivers is minimized owing to the economic value from the exports and imports in the Heavy Goods Vehicles. I therefore thanks to Safe Way Right Way for coming out to support the Government in the effort to prevent infection among truck drivers.
In a special way, I would like to thank the Germany Embassy (GIZ) and the Norwegian Embassy under their Employment for Development programme, for the financial support given towards this project. My Ministry pledges to continue supporting Safe way right way in its initiatives to improve transport and Road Safety in Uganda. I encourage you to follow the guidelines from HE the President of Uganda and the Ministry of Health while implementing this project and any other activities.
NOTE from/about GIZ (Germany Embassy) & Norwegian Embassy
Through the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) - program, Norway and Germany are providing funding for this initiative to support and protect truck drivers. A statement was released by the Germany and Norwegian project partners; As we go into the fifth month since the first COVID-cases were detected in Uganda, we are now in a new phase of increasing community transmissions. This makes raising awareness and following guidelines ever more important, especially in the transport sector.
As we have seen over the last months, sustaining international supply chains has come to be a real challenge amidst the pandemic. Truck drivers play an essential role in keeping Uganda connected to international trading routes. They are indispensable.
Food security, trade, and the delivery of essential goods and medicine rely on them and the functioning transport sector. At the same time, truck drivers face very serious challenges. They are exposed to the virus way more than other people and they can be a cause of the further spread of the disease into the country. This, in turn, also makes them prone to social stigmatization – we should not forget about this. In addition, the enforced lockdown measures make it hard for drivers to find proper accommodation, let alone proper washing facilities.
Against this background, we are happy that we are funding this highly appreciated campaign to support truck drivers in their daily business and to protect them against the virus. This campaign, I am sure, will help reduce transmission rates and will also help restore confidence in the safety of the transport sector.
We remain firmly committed to standing alongside the people of Uganda in these challenging times. International cooperation at times of emergency is more important than ever. We also commend the Government of Uganda for having implemented measures to curb the virus so quickly and effectively. Yet, we all know these measures have come at a very high economic price.
We wish Transaid, Safe Way Right Way, and E4D a lot of success in the implementation of this very important initiative