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Major business opportunity lies underground

By on May 24, 2012 in Property News

The Thailand Underground and Tunnelling Group (TUTG) of the Engineering Institute of Thailand, under His Majesty the King’s Patronage, says the country has the potential to become a hub for Asean underground and tunnel construction, provided it receives more support from the government.

Associate Professor Suchatvee Suwansawat, president of TUTG, said that because of the limited land left in the downtown commercial core of Bangkok for above-ground development, there was increased need to build underground commercial developments and tunnels in business areas such as Sukhumvit, Chidlom and Ploenchit.

Suchatvee said it was necessary to educate state agencies and their leaders to get them to change their perception of underground development as costlier than above-ground construction. To make Bangkok more like some other international cities, the agencies should consider all the benefits of underground development, including providing more beautiful and tourist-friendly places, reducing traffic congestion and mitigating the effects of future natural disasters, he said.

Thailand has tremendous potential to take advantage of underground construction opportunities, which are projected to be significant once the Asean Economic Community is launched, he said. This country is skilled at producing turnkey underground engineering projects, and is home to many businesses that are already involved in consulting, designing, managing and construction, as well as supplying of construction materials, equipment and personnel. However, Thailand is unlikely to benefit unless the government promotes the country’s products, services and businesses, Suchatvee said.

Bangkok has been hosting the World Tunnel Congress, which began May 18 on Friday and ends today (May 23) at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, under the theme “Tunnelling and Underground Spaces for the Global Society”. Experts from 64 countries around the world are attending the congress and are presenting innovative technologies now being used in underground construction. Exhibitions of advanced underground construction technologies are on display.

There are certain aspects of underground development in which Thailand is lacking, and Suchatvee wants to see the government allocate 2 per cent of the nation’s infrastructure budget to research and development on unique construction techniques. He said this would boost Thailand’s readiness to become a construction hub for Asean underground development and tunnelling.

Thailand is a founding member of ITA-AITES, which organised the World Tunnel Congress. It is one of the leading international conferences and is known as the “Olympics of construction engineering for the world”.

The advantages of tunnels – apart from the benefit of water/waste drainage and flood prevention – is that they can be used for cars, trains including electric subways, infrastructure, high-voltage electricity delivery, energy transport, underground residences, underground department stores and commercial centres, and even recreation and sport centres.

Asian countries and territories including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore have been using tunnels to prevent floods and for other purposes that have made the investments worthwhile, Suchatvee said.

Source : The Nation 23 May 2012

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