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Bus operators install GPS satellite devices to monitor reckless driving

Makome Bus Company Director, Mr Charles Okot Kit (in grey suit) with some of his staff. (PHOTO/PML Daily)

GULU – In a bid to reduce the risk of road accidents, a Gulu-Kampala bound bus company has resorted to using satellite devices to track its fleet.

This will enable management to monitor their staff who drive recklessly while transporting passengers.

Mr. Charles Okot Kit, the Director of Makome bus company that plies the northern route from Kampala in an interview with our reporter says he decided to install the satellite devices on all of his buses to help monitor drivers and the condition of the buses.

“We installed GPS to regulate our drivers and we have a maximum speed which they should stop at and if they go beyond, if my bus driver is over speeding, braking abruptly, or taking sharp corners, I will get alert a message on my phone, my managers and my families also get the same message” Okot said.

The device has a function that sparks off an alarm in the bus’ audio speakers which is ignited whenever an errant driver over speeds or suddenly brakes. This alerts and empowers the passengers on board to hold an erratic driver responsible.

The director also assured the passengers that the digital monitoring devices, have enabled several families, himself and the bus managers in different locations have been responsibly involved in ensuring the safety of the passengers who board their buses.

The monitoring machine is called “Satellite Monitoring Vehicle Global System (SMVGS) it a very rare tool that is being used in Uganda according to Mr. Okot and it is being used by only three bus companies in Uganda because the device is expensive though effective.

To install the device on each bus, Okot stated that a total cost 320 US dollars (approximately UGX 1.3M) once and subscription of 36 US dollars (approx UGX150,000) every three months.

Besides the confident in the digital machine, the Makome boss on Saturday 3rd evening took to God two new buses to be prayed for by Bishop of Diocese of Northern Uganda, Rev Johnson Gakumba at Christ Church in Gulu town. The prayer was to seal the buses and operators in godly protection against uncertainty of causing the accident. The two new buses were recently secured through leasing from Standbic Bank just like the rest and they will begin operation this week.

As competition is getting stiff in the transport business as being evident by new arrivals other bus companies, Mr Okot is not bothered because his customers have built trust and loyalty because of their safety and obedience of the staffs to the passengers.

“Most accidents are caused due to competition arising from over speeding but I usually tell my drivers to drive at a normal speed because they have contracts to take passengers from the sources up to the destinations and the contract must be obliged to ensure passengers are transported well and this has won the heart of all the traders of Gulu who travel between Gulu and Kampala.” he bragged, adding they rarely get involved in accident just like other bus companies without precaution measures against road accident.

Road accidents in Uganda is among the top causes of death, with a total of 72 per cent death due to reckless and careless driving out of 3,194 deaths according to traffic report captured in the Annual Police report of 2018.

However, Makome Bus Company is not the only bus transporter plying from Gulu to Kampala route. There are also bus companies including; Gulu Coach, Post Bus, Home Land, HMK Company, Mewa bus company, Friendship, GAGGA bus, Opit Investment.

Two new bus companies such as Larem Transporters and KK Travelers have just announced their entrance in the competitive market and are expected to begin plying the Gulu-Kampala route this week.

One of the customers Mr. Patrick Omaya, the chairman Gulu Main Market Vendors Association is hoping that with the coming of many bus companies into transport business, seasonal travellers especially school children and traders won’t face the burden of bus shortages and hiked fares.

“We have been facing challenges of transport most during festive seasons and every beginning of school terms and when children are returning home for holidays, but we hope that with the new buses coming into the business, there will not be more problematic due to a shortage of buses and high charges on customers.” Omaya Patrick

He appealed to bus operators to make sure they protect customers’ properties and observe the safety of the passengers who use their buses.

The Bishop of Northern Diocese, Rev Johnson Gakumba while leading the mass on Saturday, August 3, cautioned managers of bus companies to stop overworking drivers without giving them enough time to rest.

He argued that many nasty accidents in Uganda are a result of driver fatigue. Drivers usually don’t get enough rest which often makes them sleep on the steering wheel.

He advised his fellow entrepreneurs who deal in the transport business, to recruit many drivers who can work in shifts to allow them to recuperate.

He noted that employing few staff endangers the lives of the passengers who are at left at the mercy of exhausted drivers who travel long distances and get very little rest.

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