The Botswana Railways (BR) has, for the first time, been nominated for Africa Rail Awards for two categories, namely Special Merit for Operational Excellence and Best Railway Operator, whilst the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Andrew Lunga, made it into the Africa Rail Personality of the Year nominations.
Africa Rail Awards focus on reviewing and rewarding Africa’s railway sector. There are eleven categories, namely: Best manufacturer for export, Best technology provider, Best funded rail transport programme, Best concessionaire, Special merit for operational excellence, Best mining railway, Best railway asset-owning authority, Best railway operator, Africa Rail Personality of the year, Africa Rail Lifetime Achievement Award and Best service provider to the Railway Industry.
“These awards are the industry’s awards for the railway industry, and they reward and celebrate excellence within the sector. With so much growth and potential happening in the sector across the African continent, excellence is evident throughout the sector,” said Africa Rail Marketing Manager, Genna Thatcher.
Thatcher explained that the awards are also designed to celebrate the continued growth and success of the African railway marketplace and focus on some of the exceptional performers within the industry.
“This event also gives one an opportunity to have a global view of the railway industry and challenges faced by this industry to develop African countries,” Thatcher said.
Thatcher said that the Special merit for operational excellence is an award given to a railway operator, asset owning authority or concessionaire who has demonstrated innovation and excellence in their operations.
“Best Railway Operator is open to all operators, operating in Africa, and the judges pay attention to customer experience, creative initiatives to promote traffic back to railways, a consistent safety record, operational efficiency and average freight rates,” he explained.
The Africa Rail Personality of the year, Thatcher said, is given to that individual regarded as the well-accepted visionary leader in the rail industry who has contributed to industry through development and initiatives.
“This is someone who promotes innovative approaches in the industry,” she added.
This year this award had only two nominees, Lunga and Lucky Montana, CEO of South African Rail Commuter Corporation (SARCC) who ran Metro Rail.
Thatcher said the prestigious event allows one to rub shoulders with the biggest names in the railway sector from across the continent, not to mention other regions across the globe.
“I’m very happy for BR to be nominated in these awards, and we’ve worked hard and deserve this. The reason why we’ve been nominated is because of the BR’s turnaround strategy which BR management has embarked on,” said Lunga.
The turnaround strategy is expected to convert BR from a conventional rail to a modern, total logistics transport service provider run on commercial lines. “This turnaround strategy focuses on operational improvement so as to allow BR to be efficient and cost effective,” he stated.
Africa Rail was launched 11 years ago in an attempt to address the issues plaguing Africa’s rail industry. And 11 years on, Africa Rail has proven to be so much more than that. It is now the definitive meeting place for key players, ministers and industry experts in the railway sector, from across the African continent.
These first ever awards, solely dedicated to the railway marketplace, will be given next month on the 4th at a glittering gala dinner at the International Sandton Sun & Towers in South Africa.