Magid Elabyad, Vice President of International Road Federation: The Bulgarian NTI Conference, promises to be a landmark event

Stroitel Newspaper is a valuable information channel for the International Road Federation

Mr. Elabyad, thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. Could you please introduce the International Road Federation (IRF) and its activities in Southeast Europe?

The International Road Federa-tion, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the premier global organization dedicated to the development of safer, more sustainable mobility worldwide through technological innovation and international collaboration. In Southeast Europe, the IRF plays a pivotal role in advocating for enhanced road safety and mobility systems, emphasizing the importance of best practices in road construction and maintenance, and fostering regional partnerships to elevate transportation infrastructure standards.

How do you see the strategic infrastructure connectivity between Asia and Europe?

Strategic infrastructure connectivity between Asia and Europe is foundational to bolstering global trade and fostering economic development. By developing comprehensive transcontinental transportation networks – encompassing roads, railways, and maritime routes – the goal is to ensure the seamless, safe, and efficient flow of goods and people. The IRF champions this initiative by advancing standards and technological solutions that significantly improve road quality and safety, thereby facilitating resilient and efficient transcontinental networks essential for sustaining economic growth and global supply chain dynamics.

Could you provide some insights into the upcoming IRF Europe & Central Asia Regional Congress & Bulgarian NTI Conference, which will take place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria (24th-27th September)?

Scheduled for 24th-27th September in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the IRF Europe & Central Asia Regional Congress, alongside the Bulgarian NTI Conference, promises to be a landmark event. It will convene leading stakeholders and experts to delve into critical issues like Road Safety, Decarbonization of Transport, Green Roads, and intelligent transportation systems. The discussions are aimed at fostering transformative solutions for creating safe, inclusive, and resilient transportation systems that propel socio-economic development.

What are the most important topics that will be discussed during the conference?

The conference will prioritize crucial themes such as Road Safety, to address the urgent need to reduce fatalities on our roads, and the exploration of innovative funding and road user charging mechanisms. This is especially pertinent as the transition to electric vehicles and evolving transportation patterns necessitate novel approaches to sustain transportation infrastructures. Equally, the conference will spotlight Intelligent Transportation Systems and advancements in Construction Materials, underpinning the future of road and mobility solutions.

It’s the first time that the Congress will be in Bulgaria. Why was Bulgaria chosen, and what are the key topics that will be addressed?

We chose Bulgaria due to its strategic geographical location as a crossroad between Europe and Asia, making it an ideal venue for discussing transcontinental connectivity. Among the key topics that will be discussed are regional infrastructure projects, the role of Southeast Europe in global logistics, innovative road construction technologies, and road safety, amongst others.

How does IRF collaborate with the Institute of Transport Infrastructure?

The Institute of Transport Infrastructure is a valued member of the IRF. We collaborate with them to promote academic research, technological innovations, and policy development in transportation infrastructure. We do this through our technical committees, publications, training programs, and conferences that aim to improve road quality and safety standards.

What are your thoughts on President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan, which allocates significant funds for improving infrastructure in the United States?

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs (IIJA) Act represents a significant stride toward revitalizing America's infrastructure, emphasizing sustainability and safety across roads, bridges, public transportation, and green energy initiatives. Despite its ambitious scope, inflation and rising construction costs have moderated its impact, indicating a pressing need for additional measures to fully realize its objectives.

How would you comment on the recent incident involving a ship colliding with a bridge in Baltimore? What changes do you believe are necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future?

Our deepest sympathies go to everyone affected by the tragic incident in Baltimore. Such events underscore the imperative for comprehensive safety and risk management strategies within infrastructure planning and operations. Recommendations would likely include the enhancement of navigational systems and bolstering bridge resilience to mitigate future risks.

Could you share a bit about yourself and your background, as well as your role as Vice President of IRF?

With nearly two decades at IRF, my academic background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Decision Sciences from George Mason University and an MBA from Ohio University. My role encompasses strategic leadership within the organization, nurturing international partnerships, and advocating for global improvements in road infrastructure.

Stroitel Newspaper is the most authoritative newspaper in the construction sector in Bulgaria. In your opinion, what is the significance and the role of the newspaper, and how do you see the possibilities of cooperation with the newspaper?

Recognized for its authority in the construction sector in Bulgaria, Stroitel Newspaper plays a crucial role in disseminating information, highlighting industry trends, and promoting best practices. Cooperation with the newspaper offers the IRF a valuable channel to reach stakeholders in the region, share knowledge, and support the development of the construction and infrastructure sectors.