#Feesmustfall, JHB bridge collapse: What October taught us about risk management
3 Nov 2015 - by Merrill Isherwood
It is unfortunate that many companies do not put emphasis on a risk management programme until something traumatic happens to one of their travellers. As a result, going into 2016, we as travel managers are going to need to be more vigilant by developing a specific process flow of what should transpire and who should be involved in this process, whether it involves just the travel team or travel, HR, procurement and senior management.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015, was a prime example of this – when riot police were called upon to disperse hundreds of students protesting on the steps of the National Assembly against university increments for next year. We had quite a few travellers and staff near parliament that day for the mid-term budget speech. My phone rang non-stop for hours as the chaos started because I think it was the first time a lot of people in our company had been touched personally – either those who were at parliament or at our office in Cape Town, which is very close to the National Assembly. It was a real eye-opener, and when you get phone calls at that time of the afternoon saying ‘this change needs to be made’ and ‘please be on standby because everybody needs you to arrange shuttles home’, processes are the least of your worries.
In those circumstances, you don’t question. Processes can be sorted out afterwards, you just do what needs to happen.
This incident, coupled with the possibility of what could have happened when the scaffolding over the Grayston Bridge in Sandton collapsed on October 14, have highlighted the following points, which I find are extremely important in regard to risk management:
Thus ultimately, I cannot stress enough that we as travel managers will need to be more vigilant than before and establish an efficient risk management programme