International Seminar "Road Tunnels in Low and Medium Income Countries"

18-20 October 2017, Cape Town (South Africa)

This International Seminar was organized in Cape Town, in cooperation with the Technical Committee D5 "Road Tunnel Operation" of PIARC (World Road Association) and SANRAL (the South African National Roads Agency Ltd). The Huguenot Tunnel was the main topic of discussion at the seminar on tunnels in low and middle income countries.

Preparatory documents for the International Seminar

Summary of the Seminar

The Seminar provided an opportunity for speakers to address both technical and management issues broadly based on the following topics:

  • Best international design standards/technology
  • Safety standards for tunnel operations
  • Balancing safety and costs in maintenance
  • Incident detention mechanisms
  • Hazard and dangerous goods in tunnel
  • Cost benefit analysis/studies
  • Optimizing operating costs
  • Funding options for low and medium income countries
  • Tunnel boring machines (TBM)

The seminar also provided for a Technical Tour to the Huguenot Tunnel, a 29 year old infrastructure which was an important topic of discussion during the seminar.

The South African tunnelling industry is set to grow considerably over the next few years, with numerous large projects either under negotiation or in the pipeline. At the same time, stakeholders are faced with increasing challenges in terms of funding and cost optimization, whist acknowledging the need for an increased level of safety.

Within this context, PIARC's Technical Committee D.5 on "Road Tunnel Operations" and SANRAL (the South African National Roads Agency Ltd) decided to collaborate on the organization of an PIARC International Seminar.

The seminar, which was held at the stunning "Two Oceans Aquarium" in Cape Town, gathered around 80 international experts. The event covered both technical and managerial aspects and was an excellent opportunity for South African stakeholders to benefit from the knowledge and experiences of other PIARC member nations, with international delegates equally taking advantage of the presence of top-level experts. It was also an opportunity to strengthen PIARC's presence on the global stage and raise awareness of the association's publications and achievements.

Technical Conclusions of the Seminar

The conference offered the following discussions and outcomes:

- JC van der Walt stressed that:

  • The Huguenot Tunnel is the most strategic gateway. Current challenges, 29 years later are related to maintenance, refurbishment, fire mitigation plans, ventilation system, upgrading, traffic growth and funding.

- Jorgen Holst, stated that:

  • Modern tunnels are today planned and designed with a higher safety level for road users than in the past, before 2000.

- Kristin van der Auwera provided the following inputs in relation to EU Directives:

  • It emphasizes that new financing models for construction and refurbishment, concessions DBFM, PPP require different culture to mitigate the shortage of funds and tight budgets.

- Tiago Massingue noted that:

  • Current traffic capacity is the motivation for upgrading the second bore and separating the inbound to outbound traffic. Due to the age of the equipment the refurbishment of the South bore is also required.

- Ronald Mante stated that:

  • Risk analysis to assist in determining maintenance costs is essential;

- Bernhard Kohl & George Mavroyeni stated:

  • Efficient regulation of the transport of DG on roads is essential in particular with respect to tunnel safety;
  • The regulatory regime has to be matched with the economical transport needs.

- Randall Cable, noted that:

  • The FMS and advanced technologies have positively influenced: incident detection, incident response time, optimal use of limited emergency resources, enhanced law enforcement activities, key partnership towards the Huguenot tunnel operations and maintenance.

- Bernhard Kohl stated that:

  • Careful installation, testing and maintenance is important for a proper functioning of detection systems

- Bernard Falconnat, pointed out that:

  • Owners are invited to take into account maintenance & operation costs, life time & refurbishment aspects.

- Jean Claude Martin, stressed the:

  • Importance of design and construction phase & life cycle costs

- H.J. Ron Tluczek, stated that:

  • The South African tunnelling industry is on the verge of a major expansion - with numerous large projects either being negotiated at present or in the pipeline.

- Tony Boniface stated:

  • The most effective method of monitoring the possibility of unacceptable settlements occurring was to measure the volume or mass of the spoil material passing the conveyor belt.

- Ingo Kaudiyna outlined that:

  • The use of mechanized tunnelling techniques could be a good alternative to the conventional tunnelling method, both technically and economically.

- David Marx warned that:

  • Manager should be commercially aware and astute that a great project may end up as a failure

- Jack van der Merwe, stated that:

  • Projects such as Gautrain take courage and perseverance to conceptualise and implement but they change lives and economies for the better and over the long term.

- Tiago Massingue outlined the forward strategy for the Huguenot Tunnel.

Conclusive Remarks from Marc Tesson:

The objectives of the seminar which aimed to strengthen PIARC's presence throughout the world, be receptive and make the results of PIARC's work more widely known were achieved. He thanked all the participants, the host organisations, speakers and chairmen, Tiago Massingue and Pierre Schmitz for organising a successful Seminar.


International Seminar Program - 18-20 October 2017
Road Tunnels in Low and Medium Income Countries

Day 1 - October 18, 2017


9:00-9:30  Registration

9:30-10:30 - Opening Session

  • Welcome and seminar opening by the South African and PIARC Authorities
    Skhumbuzo Macozoma, CEO SANRAL, South Africa First Delegate
    Joe Maswanganyi, Honourable Minister of Transport South Africa
    Tiago Massingue, PIARC Technical Committee D.5 South Africa member
    Marc Tesson, PIARC Technical Committee D5 President
  • PIARC and its Road Tunnel Operations Technical Committee, Marc Tesson

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-12:30 - Session 1 : Safe design and operations of tunnels (Part 1)

12:30-14:00 Lunch Break

14:00-15:30 - Session 1 : Safe design and operations of tunnels (Part 2)

15:30-16:00 Coffee break

16:00-17:20 - Session 1 : Safe design and operations of tunnels (Part 3)

17:20-17:45 - Summary of day discussion & Practical information concerning the Technical Visit


Day 2 - October 19, 2017


  • Technical tour : The Huguenot Tunnel
  • Official dinner

Day 3 - October 20, 2017


9:00-10:30 - Session 2: Sustainable funding for safe tunnels

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-12:30 - Session 3: Tunnel construction choices

12:30-14:00 Lunch Break

14:00-15:00 - Session 4: Cases studies (Part 1: The Huguenot tunnel)

15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-16:30 - Session 4: Cases studies (Part 2: The Gautrain tunnels)

16:30-17:00 - Closing session

17:00-17:30 Friendship drink


Slideshow of the International Seminar in Cape Town

  • Conference room of the Seminar

  • President of Technical Committee D5

  • Audience of the Seminar

  • Audience of the Seminar

  • Audience of the Seminar

  • Technical visit of Huguenot tunnel

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