On behalf of the IFRTT Board, I would like to wish you everything of the best for 2014, and trust that you had an enjoyable and relaxing Christmas holiday season. In the southern hemisphere, the summer holidays are coming to an end – many businesses open tomorrow, 6 Jan, and most schools in South Africa start during the week of 13 Jan.
Today is exactly a month since the passing of what I came to realise was a most remarkable man. From the day after his death until after his funeral on 15 December, there was virtually 24-hour television coverage of the life of Nelson Mandela. During that period, I watched considerably more TV than I normally do. Besides his significant contribution to the peaceful transformation of South African society, as well as a number of other countries, particularly in Africa, I was overwhelmed by the impact he had on thousands of individuals on a personal level, through his forgiving and reconciliatory approach to persons of diverse social, cultural and political backgrounds. This included much of his time later in life spent with children, especially those who were disadvantaged in one way or another. He had a passion for building positive future generations and hence fought tirelessly for the right of all people to human dignity, good education, freedom of choice and freedom from oppression. There is no doubt that South Africa was very privileged to have had a man of such calibre contribute to the history and development of the country.
Essentially, Mandela’s mission in life was about improving the quality of life of all citizens, especially the disadvantaged and underprivileged. This is a noble cause that can be pursued by any of us on a personal level. From a professional perspective, I believe that many of us that are associated with the IFRTT are contributing to the improvement of quality of life of citizens in various parts of the world through our vocations, whether it be improving heavy vehicle safety through new products or policies, reducing logistics costs and congestion through improved vehicle and/or transport efficiencies, reducing vehicle emissions etc. etc. In this respect, I wish you every success in your work during 2014!
In December, the IFRTT’s Immediate Past President, Anders Lundström, indicated that he was finally going into full-time retirement. This was confirmed by him changing his E-mail address from @scania.com to @outlook.com! On behalf of the IFRTT community, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Anders for his contribution to the Forum during the past ten or so years. During his four years as President of the IFRTT he made significant contributions to the planning of the 10th and 11th HVTT symposia, and as Past President, was a key individual in the planning and execution of the very successful 12th HVTT symposium in September 2012 in his home country, Sweden. On his election as President in June 2006, he introduced the President’s monthly newsletter, which, during the past 7.5 years, has prompted some lively and worthwhile discussions and information sharing on various topics related to heavy vehicle transport. He also introduced the Swedish (and sometimes European) weather report as part of the newsletter, which has now become a tradition. On my election as President in 2010, Anders suggested rotating the newsletter between the President and the four Vice-Presidents, which I believe has worked well, providing heavy vehicle transport perspectives from five continents. As President, Anders also worked hard at achieving a balance between various important stakeholders represented by the Forum: academia, consultants, government bodies, manufacturers & suppliers and operators.
Anders, thank you for all you have done for the IFRTT. We wish you well in your “full” retirement and trust that you will stay in touch through the IFRTT’s electronic discussions.
Finally, we are now in mid-summer in South Africa, with maximum temperatures reaching the high 20’s to mid-30’s in Pretoria. Precipitation has been good in most parts of the country, so the countryside is looking very green. However, dry and hot weather can be expected in January and February, although, with the effect of global warming, one can never be sure.
Once again, all the best for 2014.