APM Terminals Inland Services Kenya has partnered with non-profit group TwoBillionEyes Foundation to offer free eye tests and corrective glasses for truck drivers. The partnership not only improves safety for all concerned, but also creates new employment opportunities.
The partnership resulted in a free eye check-up camp held from 27 August to 13 September 2018. The camp benefitted 550 truck drivers visiting the company’s inland container freight station (CFS) 4 km from Kenya’s primary port of Mombasa. The facility is one of East Africa’s largest and most technologically advanced CFS operations, with direct rail links to the port and the key markets of Nairobi and Kampala.
Eye tests made use of the 0.66 minimum Kenyan requirement for driving. Of the 550 drivers tested, 77 drivers (14%) were immediately fitted and issued with glasses to improve their vision.
Poor vision affects 2.5 billion around the world
Poor vision is a global issue affecting 2.5 billion people, according to information from TwoBillionEyes. Meanwhile, youth unemployment is a challenge across Africa, with Kenya posting a 39.1 percent unemployment rate based on the United Nations Human Development Index 2017 report.
Commenting on the initiative, Wouter De Gier, Head of Safety, Environment and Performance Management, APM Terminals, says, “APM Terminals is committed to creating meaningful impact to the communities where we operate. We are delighted to collaborate with TwoBillionEyes to promote among our driver partners the importance of proper vision that leads to road safety, as well as to provide economic opportunities among Kenya’s youth.”
Training and employment
The eye tests were carried out by eight young unemployed people known as VisionVijana agents (Vijana means youth in Swahili). These agents were selected through a rigorous recruitment process from a pool of youth applicants. Following the selection process, the agents participated in two intensive weeks of technical training from licensed professionals, empowering them to conduct the vision testing with confidence and subsequently receive compensation.
Tito Okuku, Managing Director of Great Lakes Ports Limited, APM Terminals Kenya adds, “Uncorrected vision could not only derail our operations but also compromise the business of our customers and trade partners. We want to ensure that our driver partners see clearly so they can deliver customer cargoes safely and on time.”