Ashaka, Gombe State, Nigeria, Saturday, December 10, 2022. Lafarge Africa Plc, a leading Nigerian building solutions company and a member of Holcim, a global leader in innovative and sustainable building solutions, has announced the establishment of its driving institute at its Ashaka Plant in Gombe State, North East Nigeria, as part of its commitment to conducting business in a safe and healthy manner for all stakeholders. The North East Lafarge Driving Institute, which is the third of its kind owned by the company in Nigeria, is designed to provide industry-leading training programmes tailored to the requirements of Nigerian heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).
The Supply Chain Director, Lolu Alade-Akinyemi, said: "At Lafarge Africa, we have a robust vision and well-defined road map to ensure the safety of the drivers and external parties involved in our logistics operations. The road map, which was developed in 2015, undergoes continuous improvement in alignment with our road safety focus and key strategic intents to deliver on our ambition "0," i.e., zero injuries and zero fatalities in our operations.”
Speaking at the launch event, the Managing Director of Ashaka Cement, Ibrahim Aminu, revealed that the new driving institute underscores the company’s commitment to achieving the ultimate safety mission of zero harm in its operations. "Today’s event is remarkable. It underscores our commitment to conduct our business with zero harm to people and create a healthy and safe environment for our employees, contractors, communities, and customers, while building progress for the planet.”
According to Aminu, "Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) are enablers of the supply chain industry, and in Nigeria alone, HGVs are responsible for 90% of Nigeria’s freight volume by weight. As a result, the new driving institute will instill and ensure a safety culture in our HGV drivers and other third parties involved in our supply chain."
"At Lafarge Africa, we recognise the need to equip HGV drivers with the basic requirements they need to operate such vehicles. Therefore, continuous investment in driver training and certification programmes to ensure our drivers are well-equipped with the relevant skills needed to share the roads safely with other road users across the country is imperative," he added.
He continued, "The training programme allows our drivers to improve their skills and knowledge of road safety in a systematic manner. The courses focus on the key principles of defensive driving, which make drivers better prepared to respond to risks on the road.”
The company’s goal is to create a fully structured and well-equipped learning environment to improve the knowledge, safety, and method of truck driving in Nigeria. With an ultra-modern facility housing a lecture hall, a laboratory, and a loading zone, among others, this initiative will help Lafarge Africa improve transportation, increase safety, and thereby reduce Lost Time Injury (LTI).
The Country Head of Logistics, Osaze Aghatise, remarked: "Lafarge Africa launched its first driving institute in 2017 in Calabar, Cross River State, followed by the South West Driving Institute in Ewekoro, Ogun State, earlier this year. Since then, over 1000 drivers have been trained by the institute and have been absorbed as a key part of the logistics value chain to ensure adequate and timely delivery of products to its customers in a safe, efficient, and timely manner.”
As part of its commitment to gender equality and inclusion, the institute trained over 30 female truckers last year, marking the institute's fourth batch of skill acquisition, an achievement of which the company is truly proud.
To maintain momentum, the building solutions company has commissioned this new institute in the North East once again. At least 200 truck drivers are expected to be trained every five months. "You can see that today’s launch signifies resilience on our part. We are keeping up the momentum. Through this institute, we plan to train about 200 truck drivers every five months,” Aghatise added.
Apart from the need to meet the world standard for operating HGVs in Nigeria, the new Lafarge North East Training Institute will also provide job opportunities for Nigerians.
Commenting on the need to ensure safety on our roads, Suleiman Ishaku, a Representative of the Federal Road Safety Corps, said, "It is important for motorists to avoid reckless driving, dangerous overtaking, high speeds, and other driving regulations." He also commended Lafarge Africa for taking the initiative to establish the driving institute to instill professional driving skills in the private and public sectors.
In the same vein, Daniel Danladi, Representative, Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), Gombe State, pledged the commitment of the directorate to work in synergy with the driving institute for it to perform optimally. "The establishment of this driving school will help in drastically reducing the rate of accidents in our society. This is because whatever the driver does on the roads is captured by a camera and shown to him upon his return. I think this is a good initiative, and Lafarge Driving Institute has the full backing of the agency."
While speaking at the event, the Head Technical Academy of Integrated Automotive Services Limited (IASL) & LDI Principal, Gabriel Dompey, commended Lafarge Africa for taking on the onus of investing in training institutes across the country to support the industry in offering adequate skill training for HGV drivers and improving the standard of truck driving in the country. He added that IASL will continue to partner with the building solutions company towards achieving its ultimate safety mission of zero harm.
Also commenting on the partnership with Lafarge, the Head of Human Resources at IASL representing the Managing Director, Doyin Adewolu, explained: "The purpose of this partnership is to reduce accidents and issues that drivers experience while driving on our roads. Another critical aspect is to provide opportunities for community members, drivers, and truck owners who work with Lafarge to train their drivers because when you have trained people, you have improved efficiency."