• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Experts promote tunneling, space development for Nigeria, Africa

Space technology key to MDGs in Africa – Ewa

Amidst the growing global focus on sustainable development, experts are urging Nigeria and other African nations to embrace tunneling and underground space development (USD) as a strategic approach to economic growth and resource optimisation.

The indigenous and foreign experts made the call at the just concluded 4th Nigeria Tunneling and Underground Space Conference in Lagos, themed ‘Leveraging Tunneling and Underground Space use as a tool for our cities in optimising the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA’.

They noted that Tunneling and Underground Space Development will culminate in better planning, and the emergence of compact cities with huge infrastructure, capable of enhancing the movement of persons and goods from one place to another.

David Umahi, Minister of Works, who was the Special Guest of Honour, said: “There is no doubt that Tunneling and underground space areas are new in Nigeria. There is no doubt also that they will be very useful.”

The minister, who was represented by the Director of Highway Development, Umah Bakare, said: “With more than 20 million people in Lagos, Tunneling and underground space development is required to enhance the movement of persons and goods from one part of the city to another.”

Similarly, Abidemi Agwor, the President, Nigerian Tunneling Association, NTA, said: “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is a bold vision set forth by the African Union. It seeks to create a single continental market for goods and services, fostering economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction across the continent.

“However, such an ambitious undertaking necessitates the development of robust infrastructure to facilitate the seamless movement of people, goods, and capital.

According to him, Nigeria, with its diverse landscape and growing urban centres offers a fertile ground for the multi-sectorial application of tunneling and underground space technology.

“Consider the challenges of rapid urbanisation, water resource management, and transportation congestion. These issues can be effectively addressed through innovative underground solutions.

“To accomplish these ambitious goals, we must draw upon the expertise and knowledge of the international community. The International Tunneling and Underground Space Association (ITA) plays a pivotal role in connecting us with global experts and best practices. Collaboration, shared research, and the adoption of international standards are essential to our success.

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“By engaging with ITA, we can stay at the forefront of technological advancements in tunneling and underground space use. This partnership ensures that our projects meet global benchmarks for quality, safety, and environmental sustainability.”

Also, Oba Abdulwasiu Omogbolahun Lawal, Oniru of Iruland harped on the need for collaboration and engagement, adding, “We should work towards making Lagos to become a compact city like London, Paris and others because of its huge population. I believe we can create a great city trough Tunneling and Underground Space Development.

“The challenges are there, but they can be overcome through collaboration with federal, state and local authorities. When the Lagos Blue line project started, there were many problems. But with adequate engagement with many stakeholders, especially traditional rulers, we were able to solved them and moved ahead to execute the project that has created many jobs.”

Speaking on the Role of Kenya Tunneling Association in Delivering Competencies and Fostering the Use of Underground Space in Kenya, Vincent Rono, the founding member, and Head of Events, Planning and Training, Tunneling Association of Kenya, said: “The Tunneling Association in Kenya was established in 2018, barely after a similar body was established in Nigeria. Like Nigeria, we have been holding events to enlighten stakeholders, influence policies and enhance training and capacity building.

According to him, “Tunneling and Underground Space Development has not yet been given its rightful place in society. But we are determined to do more in the coming years.