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IRU RoadMasters: helping drivers reach the highest professional standards
Middle East | Dammam

RoadMasters: helping drivers reach the highest professional standards

21 Aug 2020

The IRU RoadMasters hydrocarbon programme helps drivers understand and mitigate the risks of transporting hydrocarbons. In 2018, MELI and IRU collaborated to implement the programme for Saudi ARAMCO’s subcontracted drivers to ensure high professional standards are demonstrated during the transport of hydrocarbon materials. 

We spoke to Amer Badarneh, General Manager of the Middle East Logistics Institute (MELI) about the benefits of the programme.

What are the key elements of the IRU RoadMasters hydrocarbon programme? 
While we have general programmes for drivers, we have never had a specialised programme like this before. It is based on practical assessment rather than knowledge-based tests, making it more representative of the actual job. The programme was designed based on International industry standards and by encapsulating real-life ARAMCO experiences and therefore reflects reality, allowing drivers to develop the skills they really need, such as hazard identification. 

Why is it particularly important that drivers undertake this certification? 
Unfortunately, there is no training regulation in Saudi Arabia for the transportation of hydrocarbons. Saudi ARAMCO made the hydrocarbon certification programme a requirement because it enables them to assess transport operators on the basis of standardised norms, ensuring the safe and efficient transport of hydrocarbons.

Operators are starting to perceive the benefits and see the return on investment of spending on training and certification. RoadMasters helps strengthen long-term competitive advantages by reducing liability exposure, minimising road incidents and cutting the related costs. The programme is unique in that it leads to an international standard certification, which improves driver motivation and contributes to their career development. 

Training and certification of drivers is especially important in the context of the Saudi Vision 2030. Drivers are at the centre of the logistics pillar of the Vision and their development will contribute to the realisation of its goals.

“The programme was great. The practical part is really representative of the job we do. The instructors were professional and spoke our languages. I enjoyed the experience and appreciated the hygiene kit we received from MELI.”

Khaled Al Hayyani
Driver

How has the pandemic affected your activities? 
Training was suspended in mid-March and most of the country shut down. Hydrocarbon transport was an exception: it continued throughout the pandemic.

IRU helped to support drivers working during the pandemic by providing checklists for hydrocarbon transport translated into Urdu and Hindi. IRU also provided information on hygiene procedures and helped us to prepare hygiene kits for drivers. MELI, with the support of IRU, supplied two-month temporary certificates to drivers whose permits had expired, enabling them to continue working while certification activities were suspended. 

We have now resumed training and certification activities, with social distancing measures in place. However given the drop in demand for road transport, we have fewer participants than usual.

“The training was excellent and I gained the knowledge and skills needed to become a truly professional hydrocarbon truck driver.”

Ajmer Singh
Driver

How many drivers have been certified since the programme was endorsed by Saudi ARAMCO in 2018? 
Since October 2018, some 1,620 drivers have undertaken this certification programme. In October 2020 the first drivers to attend the programme will be invited back for a refresher. This certification programme is currently being digitalised by IRU. Once completed, ARAMCO and its transport companies will benefit from a true driver risk management solution, with dashboards revealing the performance of drivers.

IRU’s RoadMasters team has been working hard to ensure that drivers who successfully complete the programme receive their certificate quickly and can return to performing their duties in compliance with stringent safety standards. We look forward to continuing our partnership with IRU to enhance road safety in Saudi Arabia.

 

About MELI 
The Middle East Logistics Institute (MELI), established in Saudi Arabia in 2010, is a leading academic institute providing specialised training and certification for the logistics industry.