Go-Ahead Engineer swaps Camberwell for Lusaka to deliver mechanical training in Zambia

Go-Ahead’s Senior Vehicle Engineer, Robert Watson, has completed his first placement with our Professional Driver Training programme in Zambia. During his voluntary secondment, Robert delivered an intensive mechanical training course designed to help improve road safety and reduce the number of transport-related deaths in Africa.

Go-Ahead is a long-standing supporter of Transaid and has been a corporate member since 2012. Earlier this year, Go-Ahead London donated a 2006 Dennis Dart Pointer single decker bus to our partners, the Industrial Training Centre (ITC) in Lusaka, the only government-backed commercial driver training centre in Zambia.

Robert used his time in-country to train six mechanics on the correct maintenance procedures and operation of the bus, which will be used to train both new and existing commercial drivers, as well as increasing the ITC’s training capacity.

His work focused on helping the ITC mechanics have a better understanding of maintenance, repairs and safety of the vehicle through a combination of classroom-based theory and practical exercises in the workshop.

According to Robert, the most rewarding aspect of the training was sharing his knowledge of UK safety standards. “In my opinion, the most valuable thing I have passed on to them is about increasing safety. These guys are not short of knowledge in mechanics in any shape or form, but a lot of the safety standards we uphold here in the UK are more relaxed in Zambia. It’s about demonstrating best practice and reinforcing why this is so important.”

Transaid first partnered with the ITC in August 2008 to help raise the professional standards of HGV, PSV and forklift driver training. Since then, our corporate partners have provided valuable resources including buses, trucks, trailers, forklifts and, indeed, staff over the last decade.

To date, Transaid has supported the teaching of more than 40,000 professional drivers across Africa through our Professional Driver Training programmes. These currently include projects in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Zambia.

Transaid CEO Caroline Barber thanked Robert on behalf of the entire Transaid team, saying: “Road traffic deaths kill 1.35 million people every year*, and a disproportionate burden falls in low and middle income countries. Go-Ahead’s support for our programmes is vital for increasing education and awareness around road safety and driving forward the current standards of training available.

“Our sincere thanks to Robert and the Go-Ahead team for their generous donation of the vehicle and staff time to help the driving instructors carry out their everyday work. This will make a huge impact on the ground.”

To read more about the Professional Driver Training Project, click here.

*Based on the road traffic fatality rate per 100,000 population by WHO region, Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, World Health Organisation.