Operating experience: Donations of rolling stock to be supervised more effectively (cf. the experiences of Lomé and Antananarivo)

In September 2015, SYTRAL, the mobility organising authority for the Lyon agglomeration, working in partnership with CODATU, offered 30 reformed public transport buses to the city of Lomé, including ten 50-seat buses and 20 others with 150 seats. According to the journalist from Libéral (Togolese newspaper) who reported on the event: “Minister Boukpessi and his colleague Gnonfam were delighted with SYTRAL’s new-found confidence in the local authority of Lomé and made a firm commitment to no longer confound the expectations of generous donors.» Indeed, a previous bus donation had resulted in some negative operating experience, in particular because of a lack of depots and a lack of training for maintenance staff, given that the buses ended up “in spare parts”. Moreover, the Société de Transport de Lomé (SOTRAL) had never paid the token invoice for the complementary batch of spare parts sent by KEOLIS. To avoid a repeat of this type of incident in the future, it would seem strategically reasonable to link the donation to an actual policy that takes into consideration the capacity of the beneficiary to make optimal use of the loan. The situation should then be monitored over the long-term to ensure compliance with the “donation conditions”.

Other cases eloquently illustrate how the donation can pose a problem if it is carried out without these linked strategies: in 2005, the city of Zurich donated its urban train to the city of Antananarivo, that was planning to create an offer of this type on an old existing infrastructure. The equipment arrived on site but will never work because it proved too expensive to adapt the locomotive which was electric and therefore not suited to the local conditions.