Tuesday June 10 2014

Support drivers’ badge policy to check accidents

The move by Uganda Police Force and the Transport Licensing Board (TLB) to begin issuance of more than 300 badges to drivers of public service vehicles (PSVs) today is welcome. As TLB secretary Wilson Katushabe says, this initiative should streamline the conduct of drivers of taxis and buses. Though long-overdue, the intervention is a good step in professionalising the transport industry as it seeks to enforce drivers’ discipline, which is crucial in improving safety and minimising accidents and deaths on Uganda’s roads. Police and TLB should execute their commitment of zero-tolerance to motor accidents in the next two to three years as they spread the badge system to cover boda-bodas, private omnibuses and buses.

For drivers, the badges to be issued free of charge, should be embraced as a certification of professionalism, approval of competence and discipline in their trade. Bus drivers, for instance should find it deplorable that barely, 500 of 1,000 of them are competent as cited by police commissioner for traffic Dr Steven Kasiima.

Now that drivers will have to wear the badges on duty and have their pictures displayed in the public service vehicles (PSVs), this should also enforce drivers’ self-regulation, and ensure accountability to passengers. Equally, the badge should empower passengers as co-enforcers of public road safety because they can now match faces of badge wearers against images displayed in the vehicles and also raise complaints. Moreover, the initiative should make it easier for police and TLB to withdraw badges from errant drivers and recall them for retraining before being cleared to drive again to guarantee public safety.

However, police and TLB must institute clear guidelines so that badge issuance and withdrawal is not abused by officers in charge of enforcement and verification processes. In addition, police, TLB, and Face Technologies that matches the database with that of computerised driving permits should make the issuance of the badge forgery-proof.

More significantly, the creation of an up-to-date centrally stored and easily retrievable national database of accredited drivers in the country is great. Better still is the fact that each one of those licenced drivers will have personal data accessible for verification by police, TLB, and investors in the industry.

This central repository should also help control the practice of migration of drivers from one company to another after repeat accidents and dismissals since owners of PSVs, the police and TLB would be able to scan through the database and vet the applicants before issuance of a badge. Moreover, a database of recognised drivers of PSVs and goods vehicles should facilitate both investors in the industry and regulating agencies to match business proposals with the industry’s manpower needs.

The badge initiative deserves support as it seeks to reduce rampant accidents and loss of lives on our roads.

The issue: Drivers’ budge issuance drive
Our view: Police, TLB, and Face Technologies should make the issuance of the badge fool proof to forgeries.