Dr. John Sampson, an ex-Partner and now consultant to JG Afrika, received a Distinguished Fellow of the Southern African Transport Conference (SATC) Award at this year’s virtual event that was held from 5 to 7 July 2021. Dr. Sampson is one of only eight people who have received this prestigious award that also entitles him to an honorary life membership of Southern Africa’s premier transport conference.
Dr. Sampson received the award for the strong contribution that he has made towards the growth and success of the conference. Over the past 45 years he has chaired several of the events and break away sessions, as well as presented and reviewed conference papers.
Dr. Sampson is a professional engineer with more than 50 years’ experience in transportation planning and traffic engineering. He joined Jeffares & Green as a partner in 1990 and has remained with the company ever since, despite retiring as a partner twelve years ago.
In 2003 he started Transportation and Traffic Technology Africa (Pty) Ltd (TTT Africa) where until recently he acted as Managing Director. TTT Africa, now a subsidiary of JG Afrika, is a leading firm of transportation and traffic engineers with a robust track record providing innovative and quality services to clients throughout Southern Africa.
In the 1970’s Dr. Sampson participated in the precursor to the conference when it was known as the Annual Transport Research Convention. In those fledgling years it provided an important forum for a small group of university academics and researchers at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to interact and share their knowledge. This was prior to the advent of computers and the internet, when face to face meetings were the only effective way to meet and share findings with others. At that time Dr. Sampson was working for the Johannesburg City Engineer’s Department but he also served on the CSIR’s Transportation Safety Steering Committee and lectured part-time at the University of Witwatersrand.
In the early 1980s, the Annual Transport Convention was founded when it was decided to invite industry practitioners and national government to participate in order to help implement the learning, innovation and best practice in the field.
In those days it was standard practice to award presenters of papers, and even the Minister of Transport who opened the Conference, with cuff-links or a brooch, and later with a tie or scarf as per the picture below.
Dr Sampson says this is his favourite logo. It is very clever, representing as it does an outline of the coast of South Africa with parallel lines in colour to form an arrow to illustrate the progress of transport. The JVK is Jaarlikse Vervoer Konvensie.
Based on the continued success of the event, in 1990 the Annual Transport Convention was registered as a Section 21 company and later rebranded as the Southern African Transport Conference to include the many delegates that it had attracted from the rest of Africa south of the equator. As the foremost transport and traffic conference on the continent, the SATC also draws international delegates including from Europe, the USA and as far afield as China.
The rebranding resulted in a new logo as below.
The modern SATC now covers all modes of transport and a comprehensive spectrum of transport-related topics. Sessions include transport planning, modelling, transport policy, transport finance and economics, road infrastructure construction, maintenance and management, bridges, traffic engineering, road safety, public transport, non-motorized transport, freight and logistics, rail, aviation and maritime engineering. It draws up to 700 delegates annually.
A topical subject currently is spatial development. Throughout the world it is recognized that the only way to have viable public transport is to densify our cities and towns. Authorities are being urged to not allow urban sprawl and to provide compact and dense low cost housing within walking distance of work opportunities. This requires a total shift in policy in subsidized housing development which has traditionally taken place on cheap land far from city centres.
Dr. Sampson is a Fellow of the South African Academy of Engineering, an industry body of leading engineers from all engineering disciplines whose principal aim is to advise decision makers on major projects, such as the National Development Plan and energy security for example. He is also a Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and recipient of its 2007 Chairman’s Award for his outstanding service to the Transportation Engineering Profession. In addition, he is an Honorary Life Member of the Automobile Association of South Africa.
“I am proud and honoured to have received this award from the SATC, a body that continues to provide a robust platform for transport and traffic professionals to share their ideas and best practice in the field. The conference has grown significantly over the years and the continued participation and support that it has received from many professionals annually has added to the overall body of knowledge in the field of transport. This will help overcome the many challenges that the continent is facing in terms of transport, without which economic growth is impeded, and business cannot prosper. To quote US President John F Kennedy, “Our roads are not good because America is rich, America is rich because our roads are good”. These days the word transport is substituted for roads, but the sentiment remains the same” Dr. Sampson concludes.