Recently about 40 Ugandans lost their lives to a fire that resulted from an accident involving two fuel trucks in Namungoona, Kampala, Uganda. It was an unfortunate incident that also exposed not only the road safety challenges we still face as Ugandans but also a knowledge gap that could still claim the lives of many.
As part of their ongoing monthly trainings for Quality Marshalls at all Shell Petrol Stations, Vivo Energy, the company responsible for distribution and marketing of Shell-branded fuels and lubricants in 14 African countries, including Uganda, made a decision to step up these monthly trainings to include a group of Ugandans who are most at risk of loss of life over poor handling of fuel. Bodaboda leaders from various areas of Kampala Central as well as Police who are part of the fire rescue teams were, together with the Shell Quality Marshals, trained in a half day training that took place at Shell sports club. The training focused on educating the participants on how to handle or respond to fuel spills, the dangers of fuel and fuel vapors, how the police and general public ought to respond, what response would be ideal if a spill occurred at a fuel station, and a stern warning to Bodabodas about the dangers of their current behavior towards fuel. The training included a practical session.
One of the leaders of the Bodaboda group Mr. Moses Tumuhaise admitted that their lack of knowledge was indeed a cost to their lives. “This is the first time we have received such knowledge and we are truly grateful. We are committed to passing on this knowledge to our colleagues who are not exposed. We urge Vivo Energy to continue this training to include other Bodaboda cyclists countrywide in a more frequent manner to ensure our knowledge is constantly refreshed.”
Speaking at the training, Richard Okot, the Health and Safety Manager articulated that “At Vivo Energy, our target is GOAL ZERO which means ZERO harm to People, Environment and Assets. Because of this we regularly educate and train all the people involved in handling our products to ensure that there is no harm to their lives. The incident in Namungoona showed us that there is still a big gap in the market and people still do not know how dangerous fuel can be. Although the incident in Namungoona did not involve Shell product or our transport, we still feel it is our responsibility to react and save lives through increased awareness.”
At the closing of the training, Mr. Joseph Mugisa the Director of the Directorate of Fire Prevention & Rescue Services, Uganda Police Force, thanked Vivo Energy for the support rendered through this training. In his closing remarks he expressed that, “I am very pleased with this initiative and even more because it is one that Vivo Energy plans to spread to other regions in the country. I encourage you to bring on board other stakeholders to participate and learn from your wealth of knowledge on oil spills. As a department of fire prevention and rescue services, we have already increased capacity and trained police officers and this training plays a key role of boosting our own initiatives with additional skills and understanding about oil spills.”