The African Railway Thursdays webinar, the sixth of its kind since its introduction in 2020 as a bi-monthly initiative, was organised in collaboration with the UIC RAME Region, which participated in the webinar along with members from other regions, such as East Japan Railway Company.
In his opening speech, UIC Director General François Davenne noted that UIC was proud to have launched the African Railway Thursday initiative in 2020 as a means of uniting African railways and promoting Africa’s vision. He also noted that UIC had successfully continued its work and activities in spite of the pandemic.
The webinar on health and safety challenges presented an opportunity, on the one hand, for UIC to demonstrate the work carried out in respect of health and safety in railway operations during and since the pandemic by the UIC Operations and Safety Unit together with its members and through coordination of activities in this area, which has enabled the railway community to meet short-term challenges. On the other hand, the webinar also provided an opportunity for new impetus to ensure that all the long-term lessons and good practices that have been consolidated, as well as the opportunities to improve safety, will be shared by as many stakeholders as possible.
Mohamed Rabie Khlie, Chairman of UIC Africa and UIC Vice Chairman, emphasised the disastrous consequences of Covid-19 in Africa and the unprecedented crisis in the transport sector, illustrating his presentation with an overview of occupational health and safety in Morocco.
The webinar consisted of two panels. The first, moderated by Frédéric Henon, Head of Operations and Safety at UIC, focused on studies, analyses and conclusions to be drawn from the pandemic, which, he noted, is not yet behind us. Presentations were given by experts from the UIC Covid-19 Taskforce, the UIC Safety Unit and ERA’s Analysis and Monitoring Unit. The second part of the webinar, moderated by Ali Chegini of RSSB, focused on concrete examples of long-term organisational and managerial change, which some UIC members were willing to share. This part of the webinar featured presentations from the Chair of UIC-UIMC (International Union of Railway Medical Services) and railway networks such as RSSB and East Japan Railway Company, as well as representatives from African railway networks including ONCF, Camrail and Sitarail.
Concluding the webinar, Said Chandid, Head of the UIC Africa Regional Office in Rabat, summarised the discussion by underlining four main issues: the importance of adapting to the new context of safety at work, recovery within the framework of the new normal as a shared responsibility, the need for continuous readjustment, and the need to define and deploy an innovative OHS model in the new era of customer experience.