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Group seeks legislation for underground space industry

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Abidemi Agwor, Chairman, Tunnelling Association of Nigeria


For Nigeria to benefit maximally from tunnelling and underground space industry, the Tunnelling Association Nigeria (TAN) has stressed the need for the National Assembly and other relevant Ministries Departments and Agencies to come up with suitable policies and legal framework.

The group said, enactment of suitable legal frame work is necessary to cushion the infrastructural deficiency in the country, which has put our urban cities under extreme pressure and are not currently able to accommodate the projected expansion.

TAN’s position was encapsulated in a communique issued at the end of its 2nd annual International Tunnelling and Underground Space Conference of the Tunneling Association, Nigeria and official launch of the Think Deep Naija Campaign, held in Abuja.

In the communiqué signed by Ime Ekpo and Bamidele Falako both members of TAN Board of Trustees, the group called for the extensive development of our infrastructural base using tunneling and underground related infrastructures to ensure more sustainable.

According to the group, adoption of tunnelling and underground space Infrastructure in Nigeria can play a critical role in effectively executing Governments Economic Recovery Growth Plan on the short, medium and long term basis. TAN also stressed the need for a strong political will to aggressively attract modern infrastructural solutions to make our urban centres function efficiently.

It noted that environmentally friendly cities should be Government’s main priority noting that the consequences of not adequately future proofing our rapidly expanding cities can be damning. In the communiqué TAN also stressed the need for the Nigeria to fully engage in the use of the underground space and emulate the industry drive currently being experienced in China and India in readiness for the projected population explosion by 2050 that will position Nigeria as the 3rd most populous nation in the world behind China and India.

According to TAN, the nation needs a very strong political will to aggressively attract modern infrastructural solutions to make our urban centres function efficiently.It stressed that TAN should be applauded for the achievement of getting Nigeria adopted as 74th member nation of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association within such a short time and also for the Think Deep Naija Campaign initiative which was described as being very strategic and timely.

The adoption of Nigeria as a member nation of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, it said, has positioned Nigeria to benefit from the global partnership with other 73 member nations in the areas of Knowledge sharing, technology transfer and endorsement of foreign direct investment within the areas of Tunnelling and Underground space Infrastructure development.

According to TAN, the potentials of solving our surface problems using the underground space in the areas of mass transportation, water supply, power, telecommunication, oil & Gas distribution, flood control etc. are enormous. Suitable implementation strategies/funding options, the group said, must be adopted to address the serious concerns expressed by participants about how tunnelling would be actualised considering the sorry state of current infrastructure projects, power supply, safety of tunnels, funding and maintenance culture.

This is because of the precarious situation the nation may likely find itself if it fails to adopt tunnelling and the use of the underground space to solve its infrastructural problems noting that while the population would be more than double, the usable land mass is more likely to have shrunk as a result of desertification and ocean surge.

It noted further that the Country has the potential pool of labour force whose capacity could be further developed to suit the needs of the Tunnelling and Underground space Industry.

The Pool of trained Nigerians in the diaspora , TAN said is already operating in different capacities in the Tunnelling and Underground space Industry should be leveraged upon to develop the industry in Nigeria.

It further called on the Federal Ministry of Transportation should review the scope of the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology to cover training of required work force in the areas of Concept development, Planning and Construction of transport tunnels in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing, Tunnelling Association Nigeria and The International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association to facilitate local capacity development.

The theme of the conference was “Exploring the Socio-economic benefits of Tunnelling and Underground Space Infrastructure in Nigeria”.While acknowledging infrastructural challenges faced by Nigeria, which included insufficient power supply deficiency, safety of tunnels and the buy-in of government for funding, the group called for adoption of Public Private Partnership funding arrangement to address the sorry state of current infrastructure.


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