A two-day international conference on railway safety and security, the first of its kind to be organised in Djibouti, took place on 28-29 March.
The conference was held three months after the opening of the new Djibouti-Addis Ababa standard-gauge railway line. The project, a joint venture between EDR and SDCF, represents a €4 billion investment on a line with 19 stations.
The conference was opened by the Minister of Equipment and Transport of Djibouti, the DG of SDCF, Mr Mahamoud Robleh Dabar, the DG of EDR, Mr Tilahun Sarka, and Mr Thierry Béra, UIC CFO and Africa Region Coordinator.
Mr Loubinoux, unable to attend the meeting, sent a video message which was welcomed by participants. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/lwEvW-uoAMQ
The conference brought together over 200 participants from 12 different countries, including representatives of various African countries, members of a number of safety, security and environmental institutions, the University of Djibouti, an association representing nomads, police, port and railway authorities, engineers and new employees of the brand-new railway line, who were particularly interested in the event and played an active role during the Q&A session and discussion.
During the two-day conference, UIC experts Jacques Colliard, Head of Security, and Bernard Penners, Head of Safety, spoke at length about the safety and security of railway systems, risks, health in the workplace, environmental change, and services offered by UIC. A separate panel was devoted to regional priorities, with presentations by representatives from Algeria, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Three topics were highlighted at the conclusion of the conference: the role of the train station as a factor in regional development, crisis management in parallel with risk and threat prevention, and the impact of railway concessions on safety and security management. The members of UIC Africa will decide on the next steps to ensure that developments in these areas are monitored closely.
The key values necessary for development include engagement on the part of all stakeholders and safety culture developed through recruitment and training, important at all levels of organisations and society. The speakers encouraged the new recruits at EDR and SDCF - the first to benefit from this kind of training - to continue with their work. The DG of EDR expressed a wish to continue working with UIC. The conference concluded with a technical visit to ports and a railway station.