Amaechi pledges capacity support for tunneling development in Nigeria
Nigeria is ripe for embracing the technology of tunnelling and underground space utilization, the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi said on Thursday.
In fact, he also expressed his support for the inclusion of tunneling engineering in the academic curriculum of the Nigerian Institute for Transport Technology, Zaria.
The minister’s endorsement was conveyed by the director of road and mass transport, Dr. Anthonia Ekpa at the closing of the three-day the 2nd Annual International Conference on Tunnelling and Underground Space, organized by the Tunnelling Association of Nigeria, TAN, in Abuja.
He expressed the readiness of the ministry to partner with the organization in realizing its objectives.
“In order for the country to engage with the tunneling technology, the Ministry of Transportation will encourage the nation’s foremost transport institution, the Nigerian Institute for Transport Technology to consider researching into tunneling with a view to making this engineering option of the subjects in its curriculum.
“Similarly, I charge TAN along with the international body (ITA) to promote capacity building programmes in tunnel engineering and use of underground space for railways and other forms of transportation in line with international best practices since this is a new mode of transportation, there is need to deploy appropriate communication channels to enlighten Nigerians and gain support for tunneling”, he explained.
President of TAN, Mr. Abidemi Agwor said Nigeria stands to experience a faster development of its urban infrastructure if tunneling with underground space is adopted as a national policy.
At the conference themed: Exploring the socioeconomic benefits of developing tunneling and underground space infrastructure in Nigeria; Agwor disclosed that the organization has made laudable feats by its adoption as the 74th Member Nation of the International Tunnelling Association after its maiden conference in 2017.
Agwor noted that use of tunnels would assist Nigeria, especially densely populated cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano in addressing transport, water, sewage, telecommunication, power and other socioeconomic sectors of the nation.
“The Tunnelling Association of Nigeria, through its three pillars of awareness creation, education and capacity development seeks to engage the government, private sector and the academia through conferences, symposia, workshops and other means”, Agwor said.
He urged support of stakeholders for the adoption of tunneling as a major development policy towards Nigeria’s infusion of the new engineering concept into its development.
Agwor said tunneling is not just an engineering but an all-inclusive discipline requiring the input of almost every sector involved in urban development; especially law, engineering, urban and regional planning and many more.
He called on interested members and stakeholders to enlist to become parts of the tunneling initiative as members.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Chairman, Senate Committee on Road Transport, applauded the organizers of the summit, describing the gathering as timely in view of projections that Nigeria may become third most populous nation by 2050.
Ashafa, who was represented by his aide, Mr. Temitope Atiba, promised legislative support to remove hurdles and create enabling environment for the ease of operations in the tunneling sector.