Skilled technicians are key for the successful operation of the new Scania BRT system in Ghana. To provide in-demand knowledge of heavy-duty vehicles, Scania will offer students vocational training at their modern workshop facility.
Anyone visiting Accra can see the advantages that a developed public transport system would offer in solving the severe traffic situation. Scania is at present rolling out a complete Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that should greatly improve the quality of life in one of West Africa’s largest cities. To guarantee the smooth operation of the government’s investment in nearly 300 buses, drivers and technically skilled service technicians are required to provide quality service of the vehicles.
“It is hard to find technicians with sufficient basic education that we can give the specialised education required,” says Fredrik Morsing, Managing Director of Scania West Africa. “There are few opportunities in Ghana to gain experience, and many service technicians are self-taught. Modern technology requires more know-how, like computerised troubleshooting and diagnostic programs. Efficient teamwork and good skills in written communication are just as important.”
To solve the problem and, at the same time, contribute to raising the level of technical know-how, Scania has initiated a collaboration with the vocational school GTTC (Government Technical Training Centre) in Accra. Today, the training at GTTC is mainly focused on passenger cars, but the school lacks equipment for training on modern vehicles, trucks and buses. By offering specialised education in heavy-duty vehicle maintenance at the new and modern Scania workshop in Tema, 30 minutes east of Accra, around 30 students per year can acquire the special skills required.
“Brains and muscles”
“For us this is a great investment. While we hope to recruit new co-workers among the students, we can also help raise the level of education for all prospective technicians interested in this area, which benefits both them, us and the industry in general,” says Morsing.
In the workshop at GTTC, Adam Seisu, 25, bends down under the hood of a broken-down, government-owned vehicle. He is in his third year at GTTC and in a couple of months will start his specialised training.
“I have always dreamt of being a car mechanic, and bigger vehicles give more experience and better pay. Bigger engines also require both brains and muscles,” Sisu says, smiling and pointing at his head and biceps.
Financial support appreciated
His classmate Michael Boampong, 19, nods in agreement. His dream is to run his own workshop.
“Training in heavy-duty mechanics would give me much more prospects for my future working field,” says Boampong.
Constant Tsedzah, vice principal at GTTC, welcomes the funding. “We are very grateful for the investment, as the education in modern technology for heavy vehicles will be the cream of the centre,” she says.
The project, given the name West-African Transport Academy, also involves training of 600 bus drivers at the National Driver Academy, which is part of GTTC. Besides Scania, the project is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which works on behalf of the German government. The vehicle component manufacturers Bosch, Wabco and ZF are co-sponsors as well and will contribute in regard to teaching aid in this three-year investment.
Hartwig Michaelsen, Team Leader for GIZ public-private-partnership projects in Ghana, is confident in the project’s success, especially since it is private-sector led. “The business interest guarantees a faster and more sustainable progress,” he explains, adding that he is very impressed with the contribution from Scania.
“The amount of space and equipment donated for training at the Scania workshop in Tema really show how much value Scania brings. This is really unusual and should be said loudly.”