Hoima drivers have admitted knowing little about road safety laws as they receive training on passenger service driving.
Uganda Drivers Standards Agency-UDSA is conducting a one-week training for drivers in Hoima and Mbarara districts.
Weko Sayidi, a Consultant with UDSA, says the training focuses on defensive driving or tips on how to avoid accidents, understanding road safety laws, road signs and discipline.
Sayidi says this is part of a countrywide program the Agency is doing in collaboration with ministry of works and transport. Hoima and Mbarara have pioneered the training which will be rolled out to other districts throughout the country.
He says this follows a realization that majority of the drivers lack enough knowledge of the law and road signs, yet they continue to carry passengers.
According to Sayidi after the training on Friday, the drivers will be examined. Those who pass will be recommended for certificates and Passenger Service Vehicle-PSV budges from the ministry of works and transport. He says PSV budges will be the only sign for qualification to operate on road.
Steven Muhoozi, Hoima district traffic officer, says only three percent of drivers in the area are well aware of road safety laws and signs. Muhoozi says this is the reason why many of them cause accidents.
The traffic chief welcomes the training and vows to arrest drivers found without PSV budges, once the new policy takes effect in July.
Fredrick Wandera, a taxi driver on the Hoima-Masindi road, says despite his ten years’ experience, he has limited knowledge of the law.
He says he has missed some job opportunities especially in oil companies due to lack of enough professional knowledge. Wandera is optimistic that this will be no more now.
Moses Kaahwa, another taxi driver, says he was ignorant of many of the road signs and laws despite the fact that he has been on the road for some years now.
About 300 drivers are being trained in Hoima.
At least 30 people have died in different road accidents in the country over the last three weeks. According to the annual traffic reports, up to 3000 people die road traffic accidents annually.
In May this year, Uganda developed a Comprehensive Road Safety Road Map as one of the ways to achieve a 50% reduction in road traffic accident deaths by the year 2020, as recommended by the United Nations Resolution on Decade of Action for Road Safety.
Dr Stephen Chebrot, the State Minister of State for Works and Transport, told the media the Road map implemented under his ministry will guide actions, investment and plans for reducing road traffic accidents.
Uganda is one of the countries in Africa with the highest rate of road accidents according to a safety report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The report titled Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013 indicates that in 2010 Uganda had 2,954 deaths as a result of road accidents. Only Nigeria and South Africa had a higher number of deaths at 4,065 and 13,768 respectively.
According to the WHO report, only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive laws on all five key risk factors on road safety, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) road safety report for 2013.
The five risk factors include drinking and driving, speeding, and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.
The report says that about 1.24 million people die each year on the world’s roads and between 20 and 50 million others sustain non-fatal injuries. Young adults aged between 15 and 44 years account for 59% of global road traffic deaths.