No more tunnel vision


The need for tunnelling predicts an upsurge in infrastructural development across the globe.

Monique Wainstein, Associate Engineer at GIBB, South Africa’s leading black-owned consulting firm, recently attended the International Tunnelling Association (ITA) conference in Croatia. With the overarching theme See Tunnel: Promoting Tunnelling in South East European Region, a total of 1 537 delegates attended to share their insights and learnings.

Given the emergence of infrastructural development in South East Europe, and an increased need for new tunnels and the use of underground spaces, Croatia made for the ideal location for this year’s conference. “Over a ten year period, there has been a steady growth in the tunnelling market in Europe, Australasia, North and South America; and in the last decade alone there has been a global growth of over 5% per year. There are also new markets in development in the Middle East where activity has increased - a stark contrast to tunnelling hardly being present only ten years ago,” shares Wainstein.

Wainstein is a member of the South African National Committee on Tunnelling (SANCOT) and serves on the Working Group for Life-cycle Tunnel Asset Management.  Wainstein also serves on the same ITA working group at international level representing South Africa within the international tunnelling community. With her wealth of knowledge and understanding of the South African infrastructure and landscape, she is currently working on large-scale underground tunnel projects, including the OR Tambo Airport underground passenger tunnel, and others in Africa.

“The annual tunnelling conference serves to assist the global tunnelling working groups. We get a chance to network and interact with our colleagues from all around the world, learning about the latest developments in technology as well as project case studies,” comments Wainstein. “It is an extremely beneficial event which allows for cross-collaboration and network knowledge exchange, which in turn increases business opportunities”.

A notable growth and need for tunnelling predicts an upsurge in infrastructural development across the globe. The ITA is already implementing initiatives to attract young engineers and scientists to the Association and tunnelling industry.

“The ITA is mindful of the fact that resources need to be secured to cope with the increase in demand for tunnels across the globe. Tunnels and the use of the underground space help cities to become resilient by transforming surface problems to underground solutions which leads to a positive improvement in living conditions for citizens by reducing congestion, reducing air pollution, noise and vibrational impacts,” asserts Wainstein.

With the world’s population increasing rapidly along with urbanisation, the need and use of tunnels and utilisation of underground space will continue to expand. “Conferences such as the World Tunnelling Conference, are hugely beneficial for societies around the world to get a proper chance to meet, network and work together in coming up with practical solutions to each of our country’s underground tunnel projects,” concludes Wainstein. 

Kerry Hodgkinson

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This edition

Issue 68