By John Agaba
The Transport Licensing Board (TLB) has given all bus drivers a deadline of September 30 to acquire badges. Thereafter, it will be criminal for any bus driver to take passengers without a badge.
The move, first launched by transport minister Abraham Byandala on June 6, is aimed at reducing road carnage in the country.
Winston Katushabe, TLB’s secretary, said after September 30, all those drivers who will not have badges and a 9x12inch photo hang in their buses, would not be allowed on the road.
He said a total of 311, out of the 584 drivers who submitted in their bio data for the vetting exercise (during the first batch) were recommended to continue driving. And of these (311), 138 had their badges ready for picking.
“They will be getting their badges any time from now,” Katusahabe said.
He said a total of 158 drivers (of the 584) were rejected because of issues to do with drug addiction and misuse of alcohol, involvement in previous road accidents, and incomplete bio data forms, among others.
The remaining 115 (of the 584), he said, were foreign drivers and had not yet been vetted.
Katushabe said a total of 335 bus drivers have also submitted in their data for vetting under phase two of the exercise, and it is these drivers the police are currently vetting.
During the launch of the project, Byandala said: “Many drivers are poorly trained and drive vehicles of classes they are not qualified to drive while others are ignorant of traffic regulations, road signs and markings.”
“The vetting exercise will help us check this. If a driver got the permit illegally, they won’t pass the test,” he said.
“We are going to start with bus drivers and later go to the other PSVs, the drivers of light omnibuses (taxis), heavy omnibuses, coasters and the others,” Byandala said.
Dr. Steven Kasiima, the Police Commissioner for Traffic, threatened that all drivers of buses who will not be having badges after implementation starts, they would be arrested.
The issuance of badges is provided for under section 45 of the Traffic and Road Safety Act.
However, a number from the public are wary about the intervention, with some pessimistic it will be poorly implemented, just like the other road traffic interventions.
“Look at the helmet issue, no one puts on a helmet. They start with vigor but after a month, even the policemen themselves start riding on boda bodas without helmets. The other day they said that it was criminal for a boda boda to carry more than one passenger. But don’t you see them carrying even three passengers?” expressed Ian who refused to disclose his other name.
However, Katushabe, said: “We are serious. Without a badge, no driver will take passengers. And we want the public to help us on this one. If you enter a bus and you don’t see that picture (the 9x12inch picture), demand to have another driver who has been vetted and recommended that they can be trusted with human lives,” Katushabe said. “You don’t know the number of patients in Mulago because of road accidents.”
According to the 2013 Annual Crime and Traffic Report, reckless driving caused a total of 1, 252 fatalities in 2013. And reports show that over 60% of Mulago Hospitals’ budget is spent on treating accident related victims.
“But this money could be transferred elsewhere, to other areas, if we reduced cases of road accidents,” Katushabe said.
Merion Tibabiganya, a transport consultant at Kampala Capital City Authority, said, issuance of the badges will monitor the conduct of the drivers “because if they don’t follow the traffic rules, the badge could be revoked.”
There are over 1000 buses that ply on Uganda roads…
“The process is thorough. The police have to talk to their fellow drivers, bus owners, and their LC’s and other security agencies to get all this information,” Katushabe said.
After they are recommended, he said, they take their prints and test their eyes if they don’t have any medical problem and verify if the information they have tallies with that of the driving permits issuance office in Kyambogo.
“Then they take a 9x12inch photo which we certify and is to be hang inside the bus for passengers to verify whether the driver taking them has been vetted and found competent to drive,” Katushabe explained.
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