National Express volunteers double the success of training scheme trip to Tanzania

Two National Express West Midlands engineers who visited Tanzania to train local engineers on a two-week charity placement, also managed to fix a bus which had been broken for more than two years.

Volunteers Ges Poole and Ian Baker successfully fulfilled the primary objective of their trip, organised by the transport industry’s charity Transaid, by training 10 members of the National Institute of Transport (NIT) engineering department in Dar es Salaam in a variety of subjects from vehicle inspection to repair and maintenance.

But when their training moved from the classroom to the workshop, and the Birmingham-based pair were shown a bus which had been broken for two and a half years, their lessons really came to life.

Ian, who works as a fitter at National Express’ Perry Barr base, says: “There was no better way of giving the students the real hands-on experience needed to supplement the theory they learned in the classroom; their hard work means the broken bus is back running again.”

After the students were shown how to fix faulty electrics and a broken ignition, Ian and Ges gave the bus a thorough inspection and test drive before declaring the vehicle roadworthy once more.

Ges, who is National Express’ Engineering Training Manager, says: “Fixing the broken bus was an added bonus for us. The students also now know how to check the steering and suspension systems of the NIT’s entire fleet, and are trialling a new service and inspection check which will be used for all future maintenance work.”

Although National Express has taken part in driver training programmes for Transaid for the last three years, the latest placement was the first time it has sent a team of engineers to share their expertise. Ges and Ian worked alongside Course Co-ordinator Becky Smith, who is currently on secondment from Norbert Dentressangle.