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Holding bus proprietors accountable could reduce road accidents

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Jatropha, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Jatropha

    Jatropha JF-Expert Member

    #1
    Aug 27, 2009
    Joined: Apr 9, 2009
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    HOLDING BUS PROPRIETORS ACCOUNTABLE COULD REDUCE ROAD ACCIDENTS.
    In a nutshell, passenger transportation business should cease to be considered as one of the income generating activity for every Tom, Dick and Harry in political, public service and business circles; because it entails joint responsibilities between the proprietor and the driver in the consequences of accidents including deaths etc. Such businesses should be the exclusive premise of the technically qualified, adequately capitalised and vastly experienced, for Tanzania’s passenger transportation sector to become one of the vehicles for regional social-economic integration.










    Statistics from the Tanzania Police Force indicate that between 1994 and 2005, around 167,059 road accidents occurred killing 21,001 and injuring 157,710 people. While 1548 people were killed in 1994, despite of a number of initiatives aimed at reducing road accidents the number rose to 2594 and 2905 in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Because majority of those killed in road accidents are adults, most probably having family responsibilities. It goes without saying that road accidents deny the right to decent upbringing including education. Sometimes children are forced to abandon school due to lack of school fees and being forced to take care of injured or maimed parents, brothers or sisters.
    Despite of loosing thousands of lives, road accidents also constrain social-economic well being of individuals, families, community and the nation at large. It is also disturbing to note that road accidents cost Tanzania 20 times the amount of resources it costs United Kingdom; 25 times it costs Sweden which has 16 times more vehicles than Tanzania (source NIT- Passenger Drivers manual).
    All along what has been the government’s response towards reducing the number of deaths resulting from road accidents? Following the large number of accidents involving passenger vehicles, in 1996 the government banned passenger vehicles from travelling during night times. In the same year, it directed the bus owners’ association to discuss with the National Transport Institute (NIT) to devise special training for passenger drivers in the country. Subsequently the passenger service vehicles training for drivers were initiated in 1997. It was followed by amendments to the Road Traffic Act, of 1973 to incorporate provisions making it a compulsory requirement for passenger vehicles to be fitted with a speed governor of 80 Km/h. Despite of all these initiatives, unfortunately National Institute of Transport quoting the Police force statistics report road accidents particularly involving passenger vehicles has been on the rise since 1997 to 2006.
    We need to ask ourselves why all these interventions have not been successful in reducing road accidents particularly involving passenger vehicles. Tanzania Professional Passenger Drivers Association (TPPDA) believes that agencies entrusted to administer our road transport sector lack team spirit which could contribute at exposing vividly major laxities among licensees’. According to passenger transport legislations “licensee/s” are person or company or association licensed by the Authority (SUMATRA) to provide road passenger transport services in the country.
    Tanzanians traditional trend of only holding passenger drivers accountable in the event of road accidents involving passenger vehicles is one of the major reason for the increasing number of accidents, thus needs to be revisited. According to the Transport (Road Passenger) Licensing Regulations, 2007 made under Sections 5A and 45; and the Passenger Vehicles (Technical Safety And Quality Of Service Standards) Rules 2007 made under section 38 (1) (c) of the Surface And Marine Transport Regulatory Authority Act 2001. Licensees’ have major obligations at ensuring licensed motor vehicles (passenger) are technically safe, quality of service provided is of acceptable standard and that his/her employees strictly adhere conditions of license and traffic rules and regulations most importantly being speed limit of 80 Km/h for passenger vehicle.
    TPPDA takes this opportunity to congratulate SUMATRA for coming up with conducive regulations in 2007. It is to be borne in mind that the regulator SUMATRA Act was enacted in 2001 and it as taken some time for the regulator to put his hand on the business including staffing, etc. What remains to be done is for SUMATRA start issuing out punitive actions according to its regulations to bus proprietors on driving offences booked by the Traffic department. It is unwise for SUMATRA to wait any longer until it has established its road patrol unit to put its regulations in force. In majority of the driving offences mostly causing accidents i.e. buses over-speeding, road unworthiness etc a number of culprits are involved including the driver, the proprietor etc. Hence it’s absurd to continue relying on the Road Traffic Act 1973 only implemented by the Traffic department to curb these unavoidable accidents claiming thousands of lives.
    To start with the regulator (SUMATRA) should start with the recently reported accidents involving passenger vehicles namely Mohamed Trans bus which claimed 28 lives and the Jordan bus, Al Hushoom bus , Scan Link bus etc which altogether have claimed tens of lives. TPPDA believes that if such drastic and courageous actions could be taken without hesitation as to who are the violators, Tanzanians passengers transportation landscape could evidence stupendous changes in a very short time whereby road accidents involving passenger vehicles could be substantially reduced.
    TPPDA believes that holding bus proprietors’ accountable to accidents alongside their drivers, would substantially contribute at reforming our country’s passenger transport operators from money spinners to sustainable operators who are aware and recognise road transport users’ rights according to the International Organisation of Consumers Union (IOCU). There are 8 rights namely Right of Safety, which is currently grossly violated by thousands of passengers loosing their lives and being maimed annually at the hands of bus operators and their reckless drivers; other rights include Right of information, Right of making a choice, Right to be heard, Right of getting essential needs, Right of compensation, Right of education, Right of being put in convenient surroundings.
    If the proposed TPPDA recommendations are fully implemented the new generation of passenger operators will automatically accord a lot of respect to their employees including drivers, conductors, mechanical technicians etc and compensate them handsomely relative to the responsibilities of transporting passengers safely and in an appropriate manner, unlike the current situation now. Short of doing that, operators will be risking themselves to fines, jail terms or both punishments for violation of the above mentioned regulations by their employees. Consequently, the new generation of passenger operators will further be forced to invest some of their profits in supervision and monitoring of their employees conduct and behaviour on transit which is not the case now.
    Current laxity in enforcing the above mentioned rules and regulations, forces the government to utilise large sums of resources to employ, equip and put large numbers of traffic police officers in all major highways daily to control and monitor passenger drivers’ speed and road worthiness of passengers vehicles. The manpower and resources could be put into better productive use e.g. road improvement if TPPDA recommendations are implemented forthwith without any hesitation as to who are the violator.
    Let’s have a glance of some of the provisions of the above mentioned rules and regulations. For instance the Passenger Vehicles (Technical Safety And Quality Of Service Standards) Rules 2007 Part II section 5 (3) states that “It shall be the duty of the owner or operator of passenger vehicle to ensure that a driver and a conductor of the vehicle comply with Technical Safety and Quality of Service Standards and conditions prescribed in these Rules”. Part V offences And penalties section 25 states that Any person who ……………… commits an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to a fine of not less than one hundred thousands Tanzanian Shillings and not exceeding two hundred thousands Tanzanian Shillings or to imprisonment for a term of not less than one year, or to both such fine and imprisonment.
    Another added advantage of implementing TPPDA recommendations of holding bus proprietors’ accountable alongside their drivers in the event of accidents caused by over-speeding and road unworthiness of licensed vehicles etc is that it will force operators to denounce competitive advantage and economic benefits they enjoy through their buses being driven at break neck speeds while carrying passengers, evading proper maintenance and repairs etc. Hence passenger operators will fully participate in interventions to reduce and prevent road accidents by putting in place adequate supervision and monitoring system across the route as they have successfully done in monitoring finances.
    Part II section 6 states that Subject to rule 5, the owner of passenger vehicle shall ensure that (1)the bus body building conform to Standard TZS 598:1999 of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards as amended from time to time and attached to these Rules as First Schedule; (2) the roadworthiness of the vehicle is in accordance with “Code of Practice for Inspection and testing of used Motor Vehicles” of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, TZS 608:2003 as amended from time to time and attached to these Rules as Second Schedule; (3) tires specifications are in accordance with “Pneumatic Tires for Trucks and Buses” of Tanzania Bureau of Standards, TZS 617:1999 as amended from time to time attached to these Rules as Third Schedule. (10) The vehicle is fitted with (i) a speed governor (ii) a first aid kit. (11) No person shall refuel or undertake any repair of a passenger vehicle while passengers are on board. (12) A passenger vehicle shall not be fitted with chains, tools, tyre or any other equipment in the passenger apartment or exterior part which may harm or endanger life of passengers or other road users. Failure to adhere to this section attracts punishment as stipulated in section 25 above.

    To-date how many passenger operators have been tasked since the above rules and regulations were put in place in 2007 for over-speeding and failure to install a functioning speed governor as stipulated in section 6 (10)? Speed governors are a compulsory requirement for passenger vehicles in both the Road traffic Act of 1973 and its amendments of 1996, and the above regulations put in place by SUMATRA since 2007. How come over-speeding among passenger vehicles is still a persistent problem killing thousands annually? It is claimed that speed governors were previously installed with an electrical switch putting the gadget unusable according to the preferences of the driver. Such mal-practices could be effectively contained with the above mentioned SUMATRA regulations holding the proprietor accountable alongside the driver.

    Section 6 (11) states that “no person shall refuel or undertake any repair of a passenger vehicle while passengers are on board”. Laxity in enforcing this regulation and others has reached alarming proportions whereby many bus operators in a bid to control and monitor finances have reached a stage to declare total disregard the above licensing conditions by directing their drives to enter petrol stations of their choice while in transit, and laden with passengers for refueling. Such tendency exemplify that Tanzania’s institutions are far from capturing lessons from Shauritanga, Idodi and the like by allowing large numbers of innocent passengers to be squeezed into high risk areas such as petrol station involuntarily and illegally. It is high time those entrusted to enforce various legislation and regulations in the country to fulfill their obligations which will prevent our national leaders from being forced to offer preventable condolences frequently.

    Another regulation which could utilised to hold passenger operators accountable to road accidents involving their buses alongside their drivers, is the Transport (Road Passenger) Licensing Regulations, 2007, Part IV Conditions of Licence 18.-(1) which states that “It shall be the duty of a Licensee or permit holder to ensure compliance with the Conditions of the Licence or permit issued under these Regulations”. (a) licenced passenger vehicle is maintained in a fit and serviceable condition. (b) A driver of a passenger’s vehicle is of thirty five years old or above and is holding a class ‘C’ driving licence and a passenger service vehicles certificate. (c) A passenger vehicle conforms to Technical and Safety Rules 2007 (d) licensed motor vehicle adheres to specified speed limits. In sub-section (d) it is the duty of the Licencee to ensure his/her bus is driven according specified speed limits. This means that as Licencee, he/she has joint responsibility with the driver on the consequences of over-speeding including facing court charges, fines and jail terms.

    Laxity in enforcing sub-section (b) above “a driver of a passengers vehicle is of thirty five years old or above and is holding a class ‘C’ driving licence and a passenger service vehicles certificate” has drastically jeopardized attendance to the passenger drivers training initiated as a follow up to increasing number of accidents involving passenger vehicles. According to the NIT-PSV drivers’ manual, as of 2009 only 1738 drivers had attended the training since its inception in 1997. On its inception at least 6000 drivers were expected to be trained in two years span. Unfortunately it has taken 12 years to train only 28.9% of the target due to low turn out because of laxity in enforcing the above regulation.

    Due to the number of deaths resulting from accidents involving passenger vehicles, the issue of passenger vehicles being driven those who have attended PSV training should no longer be debated but be implemented forthwith. TPPDA wishes to ask the Traffic department of Tanzania Police Force and SUMATRA to start implementing the clause fully, as it will change the mind set of passenger operators about the welfare of bus drivers; but also afford qualified passenger drivers an opportunity to negotiate with employers about their remunerations. Better remunerations relative to the tasks of transporting passenger safely and in an appropriate manner will enhance drivers’ love for their profession and sense of accomplishment, subsequently encourage them to become more obedient to traffic rules and regulation, hence reduce road accidents and save passenger lives.
    Let us be more practical on the ground by revisiting one of the recently reported accidents which occurred on the 26 July 2009 in Korogwe, Tanga region involving a bus owned by Mohamed Trans Company, claiming 28 lives. The bus was en-route to Dar es Salaam from Nairobi. The operator Mohamed Trans Company had put 3 Scania buses in that route, two of the buses christened “Korogwe” and “Mombo” were Scania 113 model, and the ill-fated bus christened “Chalinze” with registration number T 808 AQM was a Scania 114 model. It is believed that all the 3 buses had their bodies made in a neighboring country by technicians from a far-east country. According to frequent passengers of the said buses in that route, frequently passengers in front seats were requested to move to the rear side of the buses to allow the buses to pass weigh bridges meant to check over weight in Tanzanian roads.
    After the accident, SUMATRA probably after learning about the stories of the 3 buses suspended the services of the company along that route until the remaining two buses are re-examined. After examination the Traffic department has removed the registration ante of the two remaining buses along that route probably for failing road-worthiness tests. Taking into consideration passengers claims of being requested to move to the rear side of the said buses to pass weigh bridges; and that the 26th July 2009 accident was reported to have been caused by a tyre burst; probably over-weight factor on the front part of the said buses might have contributed to the tyre burst which resulted into an head-on collision with a truck claiming 28 lives.
    With that circumstantial evidence in mind, what is the rationale for only the surviving driver of the ill-fated bus to be charged in court to-date? What are the authorities thinking about the proprietor who took 3 chassis frames of Scania 113s and 114 model resembling that of a heavy duty trucks capable of pulling a trailers and built a bus bodies on them for the transportation of passengers; presented the same inspection to TBS, Traffic department and SUMATRA and successfully managed his way through with full approval for the said trucks to become buses for the transportation of passengers, only to be claimed unfit after claiming 28 lives.
    What are authorities thinking about the chain of those involved in the inspection and approving the 3 truck cum buses to transport passengers? What are the authorities thinking on all those involved in allocating the 3 truck cum buses route for ferrying passengers and licensing them? TPPDA requests full fledged investigations into the scandalous tendencies of turning trucks into buses illegally and causing thousands of deaths, and drivers to be held as scapegoats. Along the above mentioned chain for facilitating the truck cum buses to transport passengers and causing deaths to 28 innocent victims, the driver was the last person along the chain and probably found the truck cum buses at the terminal with all the relevant approvals for transportation of passengers. How come he is the first man to be charged in court?
    To demonstrate how the driving profession is neglected though conducting very important tasks in the society. As if injuries sustained by the surviving driver assistant were not enough, while all the above mentioned along the chain of conspiring to transform a truck into a passenger bus which claimed 28 lives were enjoying peace and liberty with their families, the surviving driver assistant with injuries was handcuffed in bed, at the hospital. He was later lynched in court with injuries etc. Since then to date his employer has not offered any assistance or shown any concern. Since the accident day, the employee has received only 70,000/= as salary for the month of July 2009, and by the looks he is not assured of August 2009 salary. His efforts to have discussion with the company authorities have proved futile probably to frustrate him from mentioning anything about insurance compensation. These actions amount to driver condemnation by the employer, community and authorities. The surviving driver assistant who from injuries speaks with difficulties is in dire need of medical attention.
    TPPDA is asking the authorities what legal measures are being planned for the above mentioned chain of conspiracy to turn a truck into a passenger bus which claimed 28 innocent lives in Korogwe on 26 July 2009? This puzzle suggests some of the answers for non-utilisation of the above mentioned SUMATRA regulations. How can an agency which issued passenger transportation licences to trucks turned buses have the courage to punish its licensees’? Solving this puzzle will go along way towards ensuring our roads are free from accidents involving passenger vehicles.
    Some of the lessons learnt from Mohamed Trans Company driver scenario include, the driver assistant harassment is a result of bus drivers taking driving assignments without written contracts as frequently advised by the Traffic department and SUMATRA. Interviewed drivers suggested that the situation on the ground is complex due to poverty and high unemployment, “if you insist on written contracts, another driver probably with lesser expertise and experience takes your job and you are rendered jobless. They said that this trend contributes to majority of the passenger vehicle accidents evidenced in recent years. The drivers continued that a number of drivers who have been on the road for more than 30 years transporting passengers without being involved in accidents. They proposed that the government should not abandon to the drivers all the responsibility of ensuring that they secure written contracts from their employers due to the complexity of their profession which denies them opportunity to network and establish strong alliances etc as a result drivers are being exploited and placed in indecent working conditions.
    In an initiative aimed creating strategies to assist bus drivers to secure written contracts from their employers which are compliant to the terms of the Labour Law and Relations Act 2004. Upon receiving complaints of the ill-fated driver assistant, and considering that the company is believed to be employing between 50 to 100 drivers, who transport passengers in different regions of Tanzania daily, and considering that drivers of the said company are not among the safest. CHAMMATA has requested assistance of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development to conduct an inspection of the company with a view to harmonize working relations between the employer and its workers with a view to reduce accidents involving drivers of the said company. Though a bitter and painful process but CHAMMATA believes it is necessary at this juncture, as the company as shown great potential to become one of the Tanzania’s flagships in passenger transportation in the region.
    Majority of passenger operators refrain having written contracts with their drivers and other staffs due to evading to pay the minimum salary proposed in the transportation sector of Tanzania Shillings 230,000/= per month. It is also the right of an employee to work only 9 hours per day, 45 hours per week and get one day off in a week. This means employees are entitled to overtime payment if they work extra hours. An employee is also entitled to 28 days leave in a 12 month calendar. Among the benefits employees could get by having written contracts with their employers is the remittance of 30% of their salary (employer 20% and employee 10%) to social security funds, in Tanzania it is the NSSF. Majority of bus drivers interviewed envied the peer employees with such arrangements but are not aware how they could be enrolled in such arrangement.
    CHAMMATA is advising bus drivers who do not have written contracts with their employers to contact their respective Regional Labour officers and register their complaints instead of keeping mum. In order for them to qualify for assistance in labour matters, CHAMMATA is advising the entire transport sector workers including drivers, conductors etc to join the sectoral trade union COTWU which has branches in most of regions. By joining trade unions workers can continue working while the trade unions are dealing with their grievances. World wide notorious employers are dealt with though trade unions and not other wise.
    Lastly but not least, CHAMMATA is requesting bus drivers to work diligently in accordance to their profession and refrain from assisting bus owners from operating unfit vehicles for passenger transportation. It is evident that the ill-fated drivers were taking part in assisting the owner to operate an unfit vehicle for passenger transportation. Had the drivers worked diligently, probably the two lives of innocent passengers would have been saved. Payment for assisting their assistance is one driver loosing his life and another one ending up in bed without care while the bus owner is employing fresh drivers.
    Currently there are some drivers who are frustrating initiates of the government to ensure that buses travelling long distance have two drivers. Drivers in these routes can be heard boasting of using a single driver to ferry 10 buses and above at check points put by the traffic department. In these check points traffic officers check contracts, IDs, pictures etc. If the drivers themselves take part in frustrating such positive initiatives, how do they expect the government to contain notorious employers?
    By Chrizant Kibogoyo
    Executive Secretary
    Tanzania Professional Passenger Drivers Association
    (TPPDA)
    0655 125599/0787125599
     
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