August 1 - Transaid, the international development organisation, has started a major project to develop heavy goods vehicle and passenger service vehicle driver training in Uganda.

Now set to become one of Transaid's largest initiatives in Africa, the Professional Driver Training - Uganda project (PDTU) has been launched in partnership with the German development cooperation's GIZ E4D/SOGA - Employment and Skills for Eastern Africa, local non-governmental organisation - Safe Way Right Way, the Ugandan Government and the local private sector.

Transaid's involvement was secured as a result of its proven ability to raise the driving standards of thousands of commercial vehicle drivers in Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia - life-saving work which it began in 2008, thanks to the support of the UK transport and logistics industry.

Transaid was also involved in an initial 12-month project in Uganda, which began in 2014, and highlighted the need to continue to build driver training capacity in country.

This is the first time that Transaid's road safety work has received external funding on this scale. Previous projects have relied heavily on the support of its UK corporate members, which send staff on secondment to Africa to share best practice, skills and knowledge with local teams, helping to introduce new skills in-country, as well as providing much needed funding and equipment.

The project's primary role is to ensure Ugandan drivers are in a position to meet the needs of the oil, gas and related sectors, in the face of rising demand for qualified commercial drivers in the coming years. In a country which currently suffers from one of Africa's highest road traffic incident rates, claiming approximately 2,937 lives each year, this project will also contribute to improving road safety by enhancing driver training capacity.

Training will take place at three existing schools and a new facility in the Mukono district, with students set to benefit from extensive practical experience. The training will follow the East African Community Standardised Curriculum for Drivers of Large Commercial Vehicles - developed by Transaid as a means to harmonise road safety standards across the region.

"We expect to see more than 1,000 new driving jobs created in Uganda over the next few years. However, many professional drivers currently lack the necessary skills to fill these positions safely," says Neil Rettie, Transaid road safety project manager.

"The PDTU project will therefore be vital for increasing education and awareness around road safety, and driving forward the current standards of training available. Our ability to make a significant impact on the ground is huge - from the moment the first driver has been trained, we will be saving lives and improving livelihoods," he continues.

Funding for the PDTU project has been made available by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ), the UK Department for International Development, and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Since 2008, Transaid has been working with local and international partners to build the capacity of the transport and logistics sector across East and Southern Africa.