Under the chairmanship of His Excellency Mr Emmanuel Jean Didier Biye, Gabon’s Minister Delegate of Transport, the Seminar on Track Maintenance was opened in Libreville on 11 September 2013 by the International Union of Railways (UIC) – African Region – in close collaboration with the Trans-Gabon Operating Company (SETRAG).
This important technical meeting was attended by over 120 high-level managers and experts from various spheres representing African railways from a range of countries such as Gabon, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, Morocco,…as well as experts in the field from UIC and the rail industry.
The opening session featured introductory clauses by Mr Emmanuel Jean Didier Biye, Gabon’s Minister in charge of Transport, Mr Guillaume Verschaeve, Chief Executive of SETRAG, Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General of UIC, Mr Mohamed Rabie Khlie, Chairman of the UIC African Region and Mr Jerzy Wisniewski, Director, and Coordinator of the UIC African Region. All this input served to highlight the strategic importance of the issue of track maintenance and its considerable impact on network performance.
In view of the reforms and extensive projects which are either currently underway or in the research or planning stage across the African continent, the central theme chosen for this meeting – “Track Maintenance: what impact on railway outputs?” is particularly appropriate. It addresses one of the vital success factors and great advantages of the rail system as is clearly shown in the prospective study entitled “Africa Rail Cap 2025” recently carried out by the UIC African Region, which will be officially presented at the Third Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Transport to be held in November in Malabo.
During the course of the two-day seminar, the participants discussed – in addition to their various situations which differ from one network to the next – the levers needed in order to develop a reliable, effective and robust infrastructure. This meeting is a unique occasion to share experience and good practice identified in terms of upgrading the production system to facilitate the use of advanced technology, optimising regional structures, adopting a “quality” approach to make the most of feedback, implementing reliable maintenance management information systems (computerised maintenance management system: CMMS), as well as redesigning management systems and piloting track rehabilitation with the support of the appropriate authorities.
Finally, it should be noted that the decision to host this railway event in Gabon was not incidental. The focus of the meeting is in step with the current concerns of the Trans-Gabon railway, having launched an important upgrade and development programme, and reflects SETRAG’s involvement and real commitment within the railway activities of the African Region.
Alongside this seminar, a technical visit is being organised to enable participants to attend an important track maintenance operation on ballast renewal.