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Federal government seeks legal framework for tunneling, underground space technology

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President of International Tunnelling Association, Dr. Tarcisio Celestino (left); Wande Kola-Fabiyi an architect and Committee Chairman, Tunnelling Association of Nigeria, Abidemi Agwor discussing at the First Nigeria International Tunnelling and Underground Space Conference in Lagos

Towards ensuring that Nigeria meets the infrastructural need of its population by 2050, the Federal government has been urged to put in place necessary legal framework for the adoption of tunneling and underground space technology in the country.

Minister of transport Rotimi Amaechi who spoke at the first Nigerian international tunneling and underground space conference themed: ‘Developing the tunneling and underground space industry in Nigeria’, held in Lagos, also assured stakeholders of support in the development of the infrastructure. 

Amaechi who was represented by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Freeborn Okhiria, reinstated the support of President Muhammadu Buhari led government for the Tunneling Association of Nigeria and its initiative aimed at opening up the emerging trend. He said in view of the reality, there will be need to build capacities of Nigerians to embrace the imperatives of developing the underground space, broaden it to combat the challenges and mitigate the impacts of congestion in Nigeria’s growing cities.

“I understand that underground space development will be a major inter-ministerial commitment to respond to our national needs. This informed our willingness and devotion to buy-in into this vision and I can assure you that this Administration will do everything possible to provide an enabling environment for this vision to flower, mature and be embraced as major factor in our quest for national planning in the areas of road, rail, flood control, power and other areas”.

The Minister commended them for been a development partners and solution providers at this time when the nation needs interventions to build critical sectors to raise the bar of our infrastructural needs. 

In his presentations, the President, International Tunneling Association (ITA), Dr. Tarcisio Celestino, expressed confidence in the potential of Nigeria to adopt the tunneling and under ground space technologies in order to remain relevant among global communities. 

According to him, studies in Europe have shown huge urban benefits of the technology to include; solve traffic issues in the cities, save time for rest, fun and study, air quality improvement, decrease in fuel consumption, vehicle operational cost, and decrease in daily death rate. He added that tunnel is important for transporting clean drinking water, for irrigation, Internet and electricity cables, air conditioning as well as for sanitation.

The National President of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Otis Anyaeji, stated that the Society has set up a Tunneling Engineering Study Group (TESG) drawing members from various divisions of NSE with well defined Terms of Reference to prepare an MOU between NSE and TAN adding that tunneling is one of those sectors developed countries are promoting and recording tremendous success.

Anyaeji who was represented by National President of Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Emmanuel Akinwola emphasized that skills and expertise has to be developed between NSE and other professional bodies like the Institute of surveyors and town planners, geologists, environmentalist, architecture to strengthen tunnel infrastructure.

“Developing tunnels or underground space especially in our fast developing mega cities will enable the country maximize the use of square foot of space, thereby adding more value to the structure and our lifestyle. To further strengthen this manpower capacity, I have taken note of the 10-year plan by TAN to locally engage at least 50 percent of the delivery of major tunneling and underground activities. This is a commendable and ambitious plan which has to be complimented by evolving the young talents in our Universities in relevant disciplines to sustain the sector”, he stated.

Speaking on the TAN project, the convener of the conference and Chairman, TAN ad-Hoc Committee, Abidemi Agwor said the association established in 2015 comprise; students, graduates, government establishments, legal practitioners, private organisations and environmentalists, amongst other with a mandate to effectively create and use land below the underground for developmental purposes has set to actualize a 10years strategy and target for Nigeria.

He noted that tunneling industry though, a multi-million dollar industry is still challenged by shortfall in skill requirement, hence the need to develop the local capacities for the sector.

“Nigeria is the 5th in Africa to be adopted as a member nation for ITA. We need to work towards integrated and efficient cities, consider availability of electricity and inter-mingling, strategy partnership with NSE, British Tunneling Society and collaboration with other professional bodies in the built environment for our tunneling industry.”



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