Malaysia carves out a congress-winning reputation in tunnelling

Malaysia has carved out a reputation in tunnelling innovation that has seen it win the 46th ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress (WTC) 2020.

WTC, which is owned by the International Tunneling and Underground Space Association (ITA), explores the latest trends and advances in all areas of tunnelling sustainably. It is expected to bring more than 1,500 engineers, designers and construction professionals to Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), 15 – 21 May 2020.

WTC2020’s Organising Chairman, Ir. Dr. Ooi Teik Aun, said that progress in the tunnelling and underground space in Malaysia over the past decade has been impressive. “From our mega dam projects, road systems to transportation and more, Malaysia has carved an impression. I believe with the arrival of WTC 2020, we will undoubtedly increase a great deal when it comes to knowledge and innovation. Business events definitely play a vital role for the country’s economic roadmap.”

Starting with the construction of dams and highways and the subway Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, tunnelling activities have been gaining momentum in Malaysia in the 21st century. Projects have included the Storm Water Management and Road Transport System (SMART) dual-purpose tunnel. SMART prevents urban flooding thanks to storm water diversion, while also providing a double deck motorway to prevent traffic congestion. The project won the British Construction Industry International Award in 2008 and received the UN Habitat Scroll of Honour Award in 2011.

The Pahang-Selangor interstate water transfer tunnel, completed in 2014, is the sixth biggest tunnel in the world – a 44.6 km long, 5.2 m diameter tunnel with a water delivery capacity of 1.89 billion litres per day, laid underneath a mountain range.

The most recently completed project, the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) – a rail project from Sungai Buluh to Kajang – has been host to world-first technology in the tunnelling industry. The Variable Density TBM, conceptualised by Malaysian-owned company MMC-Gamuda JV through exhaustive research and collaboration with TBM supplier Herrenknecht AG and Ruhr-University, proved an effective tool to excavate Kuala Lumpur’s extreme karstic limestone geology without any incident of sinkholes or blowouts.

Encik Amir Mahmood Razak of the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation said: “The designing of the Variable Density TBM is the result of combined Malaysian and German ingenuity. This is something which Malaysians can be truly proud of.”

Malaysia has also been recognised for setting up the world’s first tunnelling school, the Tunnelling Training Academy (TTA), in record time in December 2011 to respond to the urgent call to create high-income employment and create a sustainable, certified tunnelling workforce. It also creates a sustainable industrial technology base to nurture expertise and boost productivity in tunnel engineering, enabling local players to take on more complex tunnel construction projects.

Future projects in Malaysia include the Penang Undersea Tunnel (pictured); the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed rail development; and the East Coast Rail Link.

WTC 2020, themed “Innovation and Sustainable Underground Serving Global Connectivity”, is expected to feature technical paper presentations, tunnelling training courses, poster presentations, exhibitions, and technical visits to ongoing tunnelling projects in Malaysia.

Locally organised by the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM), it is strongly supported by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB). The seven-day event is expected to generate an economic impact close to RM 21 million.


(via WTC2020, MYCEB, Tunneltalk)