This a most original idea and an unprecedented solidarity-based act: using the train usually meant for travelers, filling it to the top with rice bags, oil bottles or canned food, and protection equipment and stopping at all stations of the Trans-Gabon railway between Owendo and Franceville, in order to distribute food kits and protection kits to around 1,500 families.
With ‘Solirail’, the trans-Gabon railway’s solidarity-based campaign, Setrag answered the call of Ali Bongo Ondimba, the President of the Gabonese Republic, in order to fight the effects of the pandemic. With the confinment of the greater Libreville, the main hub for supplying food to the entire country, the populations living near the railway were unfortunately strongly impacted by the sanitary crisis.
The same ritual repeats every time the train stops: a speech from Renato Torres, CEO of Setrag, and another one from the local representative and the population’s representative; the inauguration of handwashing stations in each town; and a campaign to raise awareness, with the distribution of flyers and posters, to call for the observation of barrier gestures and of the mandatory use of surgical masks. "I was happy to represent Setrag and the Eramet group, which decided to support the families living near the railway. This is a solidarity-based gesture which we hope will come as a relief for the populations that haven’t had any activity since Covid-19 happened," explained Renato Torres.
As the epidemic keeps gaining ground in Gabon, sanitary kits including water fountains, antibacterial soap, hydroalcoholic gel, and alternative and surgical masks were therefore delivered to rural towns. Let’s also note that the water fountains can be used simultaneously by four people, and that their water supply and maintenance will be taken care of by Setrag.
The procession arrived at Franceville – its final stop – on July 4th, and Solirail was greeted by First Deputy Mayor Norbert Mouyabi in those terms: "In the name of the populations, I would like to thank you for this salutary and timely gesture amidst the fight against the propagation of Covid-19."
Setrag had suspended its passenger trains for sanitary reasons as soon as the crisis began, but it has maintained its freight activity in order to dispatch foodstuff, pharmaceutical products and raw materials in every corner of the country.