Emmanuel explains the challenges facing truck drivers during COVID-19 – and how PDT-U is helping

Uganda PDT-U COVID-19 Response Project
In June 2020, Transaid launched a COVID-19 response programme to support heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, supported by the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) Programme. Working with local partners, Transaid is helping to roll out driver-specific safety advice and provide hand-washing facilities, cab sanitisation materials, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep drivers safe, reduce transmission rates and build community confidence in the safety of the logistics sector.

Emmanuel’s story
Emmanuel Zambo is a Congolese driver who has been driving long distance for over seven years. He says that truck driving has always been a tough job as it involves a lot of risks but he likes his job as driving is his passion. However, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has made his job immensely challenging. Emmanuel found himself having to drive for longer periods of time as fewer rest points were available. Earlier in the year, he was shunned by the community when every truck driver was considered to have the virus. His biggest challenge, however, is the fear the he could contract the virus anytime and die, leaving no one to support his family.

Emmanuel received a COVID-19 kit from the Malaba border team working on the programme. He had been using the items for two weeks before he met the team in Pakwach. Commenting on how beneficial the PPE has been, he said, “the jerrican and soap have been very helpful as I can wash my hands as often as I need to. I also use the water for drinking. Storing drinking water has been a problem for many of us. We would mostly buy bottled water before which is expensive but also not easy to buy due to fewer stopping points”. The Field Officers working on the response were encouraged to hear that they are making a difference for drivers.

Image: Desmond Habara, one of the Field Officers in Pakwach guiding Emmanuel on how to use the WhatsApp chatbot, part of the programme’s sensitisation efforts.