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A safe route to a better future
Road traffic incidents are now a leading cause of fatalities in Iraq. More cars and trucks are taking to the roads as the country rebuilds after years of conflict, with energy production on the increase. For drivers working to develop the Majnoon oilfield in Basra, Iraq, a new programme is helping them develop techniques to stay safe. And this approach is slowly filtering into the wider community.
Mohammed Al Hameed Menshidi has been driving in Iraq since he was 14 years old. Many Iraqis start driving this young and are self-taught or learn from a father or brother.
“I’ve seen a lot of accidents,” Mohammed says. “Drivers move at high speeds when covering the long distances in our country.” Other potential dangers include poorly-maintained cars and potholed roads.
Iraq has been ranked the fourth highest risk country for road safety fatalities.1
Lessons in taking care
Mohammed explains the daily vehicle checks drivers must perform
In 2011, Mohammed heard about a new course to become a driver trainer, run by Shell, operator of the huge Majnoon oilfield in the south of the country. “I wanted to teach people how to drive safely and help protect lives,” he says.
Mohammed spent four weeks preparing to teach others by learning to check that cars are roadworthy, manage journeys safely and anticipate danger, such as by staying far from other vehicles. His teaching skills were also refined.
Now he delivers two-day courses, including to Nader Dakheel, who works for an engineering company contracted to Shell. “Even after 25 years of driving, the course really helped me improve,” he says. So far, more than 1,000 local drivers have benefited from this training. Shell’s safety team checks that theory is put into practice, for example using in-vehicle monitoring systems to check speeds and random inspections on seat-belt wearing.
In early 2012 Shell and the River Transport Authorities opened a jetty in the Shat-al-Arab waterway. This helps reduce risks for everyone on the road. Barges ship in construction materials from the UAE and the sea port at Umm Qasr near Basra, to the Majnoon oilfield. The jetty significantly reduces the number of truck journeys needed to bring heavy equipment into the field.
In nearby communities, Shell developed two road safety awareness programmes in over 30 schools. Officers of the Basra Traffic Directorate helped deliver these, using presentations and drama to raise awareness of road safety among thousands of women, local drivers and schoolchildren. It also helped to make the local area safer by installing traffic signs, solar-powered street lighting and speed barriers.