Lack of infrastructure investment hinders effective vehicle inspection

26Feb 2020
Crispin Gerald
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Lack of infrastructure investment hinders effective vehicle inspection

THE United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution of March 2010 proclaimed 2011- 2020 the Decade of action for road Safety with a goal of stabilizing and then reducing the forecast ed level of road traffic fatalities around the world, by increasing activities conducted at national, regional ...

Vehicle Inspectors from the National Institute of Transport (NIT) at work inspecting a vehicle before permitted to operate in the road. Vehicle inspection manager from the Institute said there is a need for investment in major vehicle inspection centers across the country like the one available at NIT, in order to reduce possible road crashes. Photo by Correspondent Crispin Gerald

and global levels.

The resolution calls upon Member States to implement road safety activities, particularly in the areas of road safety management, road infrastructure, vehicle safety, road user behavior, road safety education and the post-crash response.

The global plan serves as a tool to support the development of national and local plans of action while simultaneously providing a framework to allow coordinated activities at the global level.

Tanzania, being among the member countries which agreed to implement the plan, is still far behind the implementation of proper mechanisms for supporting effective vehicle inspection which can guarantee safer vehicles, to align with pillar number three of the global plan, according to National Institute of transport. (NIt).

Lack of infrastructure investment to support effective vehicle inspection is among the hindrance factors towards safer vehicles in the country.

Section 39 of the road traffic act 1973 insist on the vehicle inspection on the ground that, vehicle will not cause crash. In order to have safer vehicles, the government should collaborate with stakeholders to set out main Vehicle Inspection Centers (VIC) across the country to let the exercise be effective.

The existing situation in the country on vehicle inspection Mary Mwakyao, the head of road safety department for National Institute of transport (NIt) told the Guardian in Dar es Salaam that, NIt is working with the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) to ensure that every imported vehicle has the standard needed.

“Any vehicle found with below national standard is then taken back to its origin for further improvement to align with the national standards,” she said.

“It is however that, the ongoing vehicle inspection in the country is not effective implemented to guarantee the safety of the vehicle, because of lack of infrastructure investment which could facilitate effective inspection,” she explained.

She added that, currently, it is only the Institute (NIt) and Tanzania electrical, Mechanical and electronics Services agency (TeMeSa) who are able to conduct an effective vehicle inspection in the inspection centers, but the NIt is only based in Dar es Salaam, and that they cannot provide inspection services across the country.

“Despite the fact that inspection is mandatory, it is true that the exercise is not conducted effectively, but is featured with visual inspection,” she detailed. “

effective vehicle inspection involves inspecting the vehicles’ electrical systems (lighting, and its intensity), braking systems (service brake pedal, build-up of air pressure or vacuum) suspension including stub axle, wheel bearings, control arms and many more,” she mentioned.

Makyao noted that there is need for further investment in establishing main vehicle inspection centers (MVIC) to allow effective vehicle inspection, if we need to save the lives of people.

“There is no scarcity of experts for inspection because the institute has trained a lot of them,” she added.

the head explained that, in Tanzania, we are lacking the leading agency special for road safety, which would coordinate all road safety activities like what the (UN) united Nations decade of action recommend.

“If the agency will be there, education on road safety could have been spread at a wide scope, like what was done in the national campaign against HIV/AIDS, which is now known to every individual,” she said.

the united Nations Decade of action for road Safety recommend establishing a lead agency (and appropriate coordination mechanisms) on road safety involving partners from a range of sectors through; designating a lead agency and establishing related secretariat, encouraging the establishment of coordination groups; and developing core work programs.

Manager, vehicle inspection center at the National Institute of transport (NIt) Christian Nabora said the challenge present in the inspection exercise is lack of clear system for regular check-up of vehicles three to six months later after the initial inspection.

“This is a great challenge be- cause there is no mechanism for making follow-up on the status of vehicles in the months later after it going through the initial inspection,” he explained.

“There is need for a national dialogue to include all stakeholders in the sector to discuss what needs to be done, if we really need to save the lives of people who use vehicles daily,” he explained.

“But, infrastructure investment for establishment of vehicle inspection centers across the country is highly recommended to ensure effective inspection is taking place,” the manager added.

According to him, the government can take an example of vehicle inspection center avail- able at NIt; because the center is capable of inspecting the vehicle effectively through the computerized systems fixed on it.

“The institute is planning to establish vehicle inspection centers in other five regions in the country in order to reduce the risks of road crashes to people,” he said.

At the Institute’s vehicle inspection center, there are various tests conducted including speed test, electrical systems (hooters, brake lights, electrical wiring and equipment), fitting and equipment, braking systems (air or vacuum warning device), wheels (roads wheels and hubs, condition of tires), suspension (cleanliness, chassis or frame, shock absorbs).

Responsible organ for land transport Director, road transport regulation for Land transport regulatory authority (Latra) Johansen Kahatano admitted that vehicle inspection which is conducted in the country is merely a random inspection.

He added that there is no main or effective inspection which will force individuals or owners of buses and individuals to go for inspection. “and this is due to lack of a clear system and laws to let commercial vehicles to go for effective inspection,” he said.

The director said, the authority has noticed it as a challenge, and that, “we are currently preparing the regulation for new law (Latra act 2019) which gives the authority mandate to make sure that vehicle inspection in the country is implemented effectively.

“Therefore, we are planning to establish main vehicle inspection centers (MVIC) which will be allocated in the selected regions in the country to assist effective inspection to all commercial or passenger vehicles,” he detailed.

He said that, it is a business, and we will invite the private sector through the tendering process to get the right investor who will take part in the inspections needed.

According to Kahatano, the authority will prepare an electronic system which will monitor all inspection centers in the country, and that no one will be given his or her driving license if the vehicle is not inspected.

“The system will be computerized able to show how many times the vehicle has been inspected, and owners will be required to show the certificate of inspection so that he or she can be given the license,” he detailed.

“Through the system, we will be able to ensure effective inspection is carried out in the country that will help to reduce the risks of having more road crashes,” he said.

What Traffic Police says about vehicle inspection? Interviewed, head of public education unit at the traffic Police Headquarters SP Abel Swai said that, inspection of vehicles which are done at the bus stops are merely to satisfy with the condition of vehicles.

“The responsibility of inspecting the vehicle is on the owner of the vehicle, they are supposed to take their cars to traffic Police for inspection,” he said.

Swai said the law states on mandatory inspection, whereby it directs every owner of vehicles to make sure his or her car is inspected by traffic Police and provided with certificate of inspection. “therefore, vehicle inspection is the responsibility of the owner who is supposed to comply with mandatory inspection,” he said.

“Our responsibility is to en- force the law by cross checking those who comply with the law, and those who don’t, so that legal measures can be taken against them,” he explained.

With no accurate data of how many vehicles are being inspect- ed in a daily basis, the head said that there is no scarcity of man- power for inspection; the exercise is done every day early in the bus stand.

He added that there are more than 58,000 commercial vehicles in the country, and inspection which is carried out daily shows that most of buses found to have minimal technical faults which cannot restrict the buses to operate.

What is Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) doing on the standards of vehicles? acting standard manager for Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Yona Afrika said that the Bureau is mandated to control all imported vehicles in the country by inspecting them before issuing the certificates to owners.

He said the Bureau is mandated for inspecting the standards of vehicles within and outside the country by using its authorized agents.

Afrika also warn owners and drivers of passenger vehicles from using fake and unfortified spare parts for their vehicles, be- cause by doing so they weaken the ability of the vehicle and put it in a risks of getting accident.

He detailed that the Bureau has already prepared the standards of spare parts and it is now in the implementation stage.

The existing gaps in the Road Traffic Law Section 39 of the road traffic act 1973 states on the condition of motor vehicle, that; (1) No motor vehicle or trailer shall be used on a road or in any other public place unless the motor vehicle or trailer and all parts thereof and its equipment, including its chassis, engine, gear system, brake system, bodywork or any part thereof, tires and lights.

(a) are in good repair and in efficient working order, and are in such condition that the driving of the vehicle on the road either in the daytime or at night is not likely to be a danger to the persons traveling on the motor vehicle or trailer or to other users of the road; (b) fully comply with any requirements or specifications prescribed in respect thereof by the regulations.

Despite the law mentioned about the importance of the vehicle to be in a good repair, it has not state on the need for regular check-up of vehicles in the well- developed inspection center.

A literature review conducted by Land Transport Regulatory Authority according to the report commissioned by the then Surface and Marine transport regulatory authority (Sumatra) in 2017, the road traffic (Periodical Mandatory Vehicle Inspection) regulations from 2015 describes the yearly vehicle testing requirements.

The standards seem comprehensive albeit very basic. It appears to allow vehicle inspection to be franchised out. But there seem to be no allowance for new vehicles.

The vehicle inspection process required by the law is to all intents and purposes ineffectual; anecdotal evidence provided to the review team suggested that at most the average vehicle only receives a visual inspection by a vehicle examiner.

Vehicle inspection process is completely incapable either within the legal framework or more importantly practically of examining and assessing the ‘high end’ modern vehicle fleet currently seen on the road net- work.

The report recommended that, if the sale of new sub-standard cars is allowed to continue decades of avoidable fatality risk are inevitable. the sooner that all new vehicles registered in Tanzania are required to meet accept- able safety standards the quicker will be the overall improvement in passenger car safety.

But also the need to develop a set of standards with respect to vehicle safety is seen as essential. using something like the Harmonized road transport regulatory System for the era region as a start will provide an excellent starting point.

How lack of vehicle inspection causes deaths to people (Data on road crashes) the available data on road crashes shows that; from January to October 2019, there were 2,353 road crashes leading to deaths of 1,248 people in the country while 2,462 others were injured.

While, in the same period last year, there occurred 3,209 road crashes, 1,549 deaths and 3,226 injuries. By comparing the above data gathered in two different years, but in the same period, it shows a decrease in number of road crashes and deaths, however, the difference in number is not promising enough to celebrate the initiatives embarked on reducing road crashes.

More efforts are required together with infrastructure investment to make sure that vehicles are kept safe to reduce and subsequently eliminate road crashes

A model of main vehicle inspection centers in Uganda In Uganda, the government has opened up more than five main vehicle inspection centers under the SGS Company in inspection, verification, testing and certification.

In 2017, they announced the opening of a new vehicle inspection station in Nabbingo, Uganda, the second of seven fixed vehicle inspection test stations being constructed around the country.

In March 2015, Uganda's Ministry of Works and transport awarded SAGS an exclusive con- tract to carry out vehicle inspections countrywide on its behalf. the vehicle inspection exercise is carried out under “Safe Drive Uganda” – a road safety measure intended to ensure vehicle road- worthiness and reduce carnage on Ugandan roads.

Such mandatory exercise is aimed at improving road safety by compelling motor vehicle owners and drivers to use safe and well-maintained vehicles.

Environmental conservation is an additional goal; vehicle emissions, one of the main sources of air pollution, will be tested. a mobile inspection station was set up at Namboole Stadium parking lot in February 2017.

Since the mandatory exercise began, 10,000 cars have been inspected at the two stations. five other fixed test stations are under construction around the country in Namulanda (entebbe road), Namanve (Jinja road), Mbarara, Gulu and Mbale.

In addition, three mobile stations will cover several upcountry locations with sparse vehicle population.

Solution to improve the vehicle inspection in the country a report commissioned by Latra recommends that, a new comprehensive vehicle inspection system needs to be built as it is not achievable by scaling up what is presently done.

Tanzania should create a ‘Construction and use’ style regulations, example comprehensive set of Vehicle Construction and road worthiness regulations under the latra based on the vehicle standards in the ‘Harmonized road transport regulatory System for the era region’ this should be done as a matter of priority without waiting for the agreement of all countries.

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