Freight Transport Associatio President Stewart Oades  will be cycling around the UK for 14 days in June to raise vital funds and awareness for international UK development charity Transaid’s Professional Driver Training Project, which is helping to save lives on Africa’s roads.

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Stewart will be  accompanied through each FTA region by a local team.

The challenge will start and finish at the FTA headquarters in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, travelling through England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland and covering a total of around 750 miles in two weeks, averaging just over 50 miles a day.

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In much of sub-Saharan Africa driving is seen as a job of last resort and something to do when you have no other skills.  There is a huge shortage of qualified drivers and very few training facilities.  I

nfrastructure is poor, vehicles are often poorly managed and badly maintained, and road traffic enforcement and legislation is virtually non existent, resulting in heavily overloaded and poorly driven vehicles.  Road crashes occur almost daily, often with devastating consequences.

Transaid’s Professional Driver Training Project, which is currently active in Zambia and Tanzania, is improving commercial vehicle driver training standards and safety awareness in order to address the shortage of skilled drivers to help make communities safer.

Currently, road deaths are the third biggest premature killer in sub-Saharan Africa following HIV/AIDS and malaria and this figure is set to rise to become the leading killer if nothing is done to avert the crisis.  Funds raised from the ride will enable the project to be expanded further.

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FTA supports Transaid in its vital work by providing technical skills and expertise for its transport projects, as well as helping to raise funds through its annual membership renewal scheme.  The target for the cycle ride is £50,000 which will be distributed to Transaid and local charities.

Speaking to Tachoblog, Stewart Oades, FTA President said, “With a transport industry as professional and well-regulated as ours here in the UK, and roads which are generally of a good standard, it is difficult to appreciate how hazardous road transport can be in other parts of the world.

“The whole FTA team is looking forward to this challenge and to the opportunity to raise funds for Transaid’s important, life-saving work.”

Chris Saunders, CEO Transaid told Tachoblog, “We are delighted that FTA is supporting Transaid through this initiative to help raise awareness in this UN decade of global road safety.  Our huge thanks go to Stewart and the FTA regions for their commitment to our cause.

“When people think of bad transport in Africa, they often think of investing in road infrastructure but very few donors think about the need to train and educate road users at the grassroots.  This is where Transaid is making the biggest immediate impact, through changing driver attitude to save many lives as a result.”

To sponsor Stewart and the team visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Stewart-Oades

The route of Stewart’s Cycle Challenge is:

Day 1 – 7 June – South East England (Tunbridge Wells to Guildford) – 53 miles
Day 2 – 8 June – South West England (Swindon to Bristol) – 55 miles
Day 3 – 9 June – Wales (Cardiff to Monmouth) – 52 miles
Day 4 – 10 June – West Midlands (Worcester to Leamington Spa) – 52 miles
Day 5 – 11 June – North West (Manchester to Chester) – 52 miles
Day 6 – 12 June – Eire (Dublin to Dundalk) – 56 miles
Day 7 – 13 June – Northern Ireland (Belfast to Larne) – 51 miles
Day 8 – 14 June – Scotland (Troon to Glasgow) – 52 miles
Day 9 – 15 June – Scotland (Stirling to Edinburgh) – 52 miles
Day 10 – 18 June – North East (Newcastle to Middlesbrough) – 53 miles
Day 11 – 19 June – Yorkshire & Humberside (York to Doncaster) – 58 miles
Day 12 – 20 June – East Midlands (Nottingham to Market Harborough) – 55 miles
Day 13 – 21 June – East of England (Cambridge to Stevenage) – 57 miles
Day 14 – 22 June – South East England (London to Tunbridge Wells) – 52 miles