‘We must develop underground space to decongest cities’ says Aare Afe Babalola

The Founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, has reiterated the call for the development of underground space in order to reduce surface congestion and bridge infrastructural gap.

Babalola, while receiving members of the Tunnelling Association of Nigeria (TAN), at the weekend in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, said underground space development as a long overdue concept that should be deployed in Nigeria.

Noting that the country was ripe for the tunnelling technology, especially in expanding facilities for transportation, power and water supply to reduce stress in major cities, especially Lagos, the legal icon, said although the idea of tunnels is not new globally, there is an urgent need to introduce it as solution to Nigeria’s infrastructural challenges in national planning.

“It is a very lofty idea that we should key into. I know tunnels in London, France and other major cities in the world that have used this technology to solve infrastructural challenges. We need it here in Nigeria also, especially in Lagos,” he emphasised.

He said ABUAD, as a leading engineering institution in the country, would partner with TAN in its bid to promote capacity-building in tunnelling as an emerging engineering field in Nigeria.

TAN’s leader of delegation, Imo Ekpo, said they were in the university to seek collaboration and participation towards the association’s first international tunneling conference scheduled to hold between 29th – 30th March in Lagos. The conference is themed: “Developing the Tunnelling and Underground Space Industry in Nigeria.”

He revealed that the association is currently working on a 10-year capacity building plan in partnership with one federal, state and private university. “We’re looking at the prospects of opening up our infrastructures to the best practices globally and ease off surface utilities by developing the underground space in Nigeria,” Ekpo said.

He noted that Nigeria, as a member nation of the ITA, now has access to specific international scholarships for tunnellng and underground development as well as exchange programmes with countries currently developing major underground projects.

The President of the International Tunnelling Association, Dr. Tarcisio Celestino, is expected to lead other participants from across the globe to the planned TAN conference in Lagos later this month.

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