- Created: Tuesday, 31 January 2023 13:37
This year’s biennial symposium of the South African National Committee on Tunnelling (SANCOT) was hosted in November in the university town of Stellenbosch at the Wallenberg Conference Centre @STIAS (Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study). Needless to say, the setting in itself presented its own attraction, and soon enough we’ll have new tunnelling developments in the region to draw a second occasion!
There is yet another, more specific reason to couple the beauty of the Western Cape winelands, and the richly concentrated resources of a world class university and research instution to that of exploring tunnelling advancements. Aside from the obvious burgeoning and burning need for urban infrastructure development, this is additionally juxtaposed on that of global consciousness on sustainable development and protection of the environment. Sustainable solutions to the exploding problems associated with those indelible effects of our human footprint on this precious planet mean that not only are we bound to seek short-term results to accommodate ourselves, but an imperative to find long-term results that future generations can live with.
At the risk of expanding on a cliché, it is through tunnelling that this will be achieved – is already being achieved, and has been largely entrenched into urban development strategies globally. Underground infrastructure development provides a means through which we foresee a lasting offset to environmental impacts as a result of urbanisation. And for the Sub-Saharan region, this SANCOT symposium held special significance. In the near future, water shortages, roads, rail, urban networks, access to raw materials through mining, the establishment of storage facilities to hold grain, for underground cultivation or waste disposal, will become imperative to accommodate the approximately 2.5 billion people projected to occupy the African continent by 2050, less than 30 years from now.