KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Directorate of Traffic Police has stopped forthwith all regional Inspectors of Vehicles (IOVs) from testing bus drivers seeking to acquire driving licenses.
Assistant Superintendent of Police-ASP Faridah Nampiima, who is also the directorate’s spokesperson, says all testing of bus drivers will be conducted at IOV headquarters in Naguru.
Before any person acquires a driving license which was previously known as driving permit, he or she must be tested by an IOV either attached to the main police station in the district, division, region or Naguru headquarters.
Although Nampiima does not explain why police have decided to stop testing of bus drivers at the regions, it is speculated that many people have been acquiring driving licenses for medium and heavy omnibuses on suspicious recommendations.
Not only bus drivers will be trekking to Naguru to get tested for class DE driving license but also trailer drivers seeking to obtain class CE. Nampiima said all this is intended to ensure competent people are licensed to chauffeur such big cars and ensure safety of other road users.
Every year, more than 150 road crashes involving buses are recorded. For instance last year, 157 buses were involved in crashes. This was a reduction compared to 2020 and 2019 where 177 and 221 crashes involving buses were recorded respectively.
Similarly, 580 heavy goods vehicles were involved in crashes in 2020 which was a slight increase compared to 505 crashes involving heavy goods vehicles registered in 2019.
Ibrahim Kayondo, who has been in the bus industry for over 30 years says the transport sector should not be regarded as a last resort for school dropouts but it should be respected as a profession. Kayondo says there must be parameters for who qualifies to drive a bus but not everyone who is able to sit behind the steering.
“Someone to drive a bus must be capable.” Kayondo said. “To carry passengers, you must be skilled and sober. A bus driver must have high senses and it needs a person who is fit,” he stressed.
This year alone, a number of crashes involving buses have been registered. But the worst so far involved a Link bus in Fort Portal which killed at least 21 passengers and left more than a dozen injured. The statistics on crashes recorded between April and June have put daily crash fatalities at 12 and on some bad days they reach 14.