Graduated in “Urban Geography, Urban Planning and Development” from the Lome University, Gado Mayimbo joined the SOTRAL (the Lomé Transport Company) as an assistant in charge of the operations department before being appointed as a research statistical analyst. To improve his skills and to specialize in transport, he joined, in addition to his work at SOTRAL, the “Transport and Sustainable Mobility in African cities” Master Programme launched by CODATU in partnership with EAMAU (African Crafts School of Architecture and Urbanism) and CNAM.
We warmly thank him for accepting to give us a feedback on the Master and to share with us his internship experience.
CODATU: Can you tell us a few words about the Master “Transport and sustainable mobility in African cities” that you followed?
Gado Mayimbo: First I liked the fact that teachers come from diverse backgrounds and are highly qualified. The pedagogy used, the field visits and the case studies allowed us to gain experience. The presentations made after the visits also helped us develop our oral skills.
CODATU: Can you offer some suggestions on how we could improve the Master?
Gado Mayimbo: First, it could be interesting to integrate other courses or trainings related to transport law, relationship management (with employees or social partners, management of strikes …) or management, considering the Master aims to train managers. These additional tools would allow students to better deal with any future challenges that may arise. Then the attendance could be extended in order to better develop concepts such as traffic management, road safety …
CODATU: You just completed an internship at the Transport Society of Saint-Étienne agglomeration (STAS). What were you missions?
Gado Mayimbo: I had two main missions. One was the diagnostic analysis of passenger information and regulatory practices applied on the tramway network. The other was the quality and analysis of punctuality data in order to propose a barometer of solutions to restructure travel times. To this end, I tested various tools that provided punctuality data to determine which one was the most realistic.
CODATU: What were the results? Did you manage to create a barometer?
Gado Mayimbo: I analyzed three lines over a period of 10 months, from September 2017 to June 2018. I extracted the data from the SAE database and after analysis, I brought out that for some lines, the travel time was not adequate causing advances and delays, even at off-peak times. I then made a proposal to restructure travel times according to the different slots.
CODATU: Did you face any specific difficulty?
Gado Mayimbo: One of my first difficulties was integration because it was my first time in France. But I am communicative so I adapted very quickly.
It also took me time to identify the tools I had to use but I was well supported. The team was very welcoming and the atmosphere was friendly. For my part, I always kept smiling and remained open and interested, which allowed me to go beyond my internship themes. I was indeed involved in some activities not directly related to my missions: I collaborated with the works department, the fraud department … that gave me a very useful overview for my professional career.
CODATU: Did your experience give you some ideas to improve the SOTRAL service in Lomé?
Gado Mayimbo: In Lomé we could, for example, redefine time sheets by taking into account the line characteristics according to the congestion of the areas concerned. I also want to make various proposals to the different managers. Against fraud, for example, we could review the number of bus controllers and develop unannounced checks. To save resources, we could also think of an automatic ticketing system.
CODATU: You are writing a brief… Can you tell us more about it?
Gado Mayimbo: My brief is entitled: “SOTRAL Transport Quality of Service: Analysis and Functional Proposals”. So far, I have done the diagnostic analysis by highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the SOTRAL network. I still have to write the recommendations.
CODATU: What lessons can you draw from your experience?
Gado Mayimbo: From a technical point of view, I better understand punctuality, traveler information and regulation related features. With regard to planning, as in Saint-Étienne, the rolling and the small infrastructure allowance are not a hindrance to the transport development. So we have to do better in Africa, where infrastructure too often means wide roads.
The role of an organizing authority is also crucial to ensure a good quality of service. I have been in contact with the quality department to understand how they defined the quality of service criteria, which I found very relevant and which could be useful after adaptation in my country.
Finally, I understood that it is important to develop skills that facilitate integration and communication, such as being always in a good mood or developing curiosity to learn always more and to acquire basic skills in other fields.