Baku did not simply come into the news on account of the European Song Contest. It was making the headlines before that on account of the impressive economic development enjoyed by the region and Azerbaijan as a whole. More than 300 experts from home and abroad came together on September 10 and 11, 2012 in Azerbaijan’s lively capital to witness around 40 lectures and speeches during the first International Congress on “Tunnelling and Underground Infrastructure in Urban Areas”. The event was backed up by an exhibition involving more than 25 companies, which turned out to be particularly popular during the breaks.
In a welcoming address Shaig Efendiyev, the chairman of Azertunel/Metro Tikinti JSC and president of the Azerbaijan Tunneling Association, outlined the general conditions for tunnelling in Azerbaijan.
On account of the rapid increase in area and population Baku is developing into a metropolis with a modern infrastructure. Growing employment and in turn, prosperity as well as the ability to attract more and more tourists lead to a need to improve the infrastructure of the city on the Caspian Sea. The main access roads have been or are being developed and new bypass routes, roundabouts and tunnels planned and constructed. The government has introduced 2 programmes towards this end: the programme to develop the Baku Metro 2011 till 2015 and the development scheme for Baku’s Metro lines. The international conference organised by Azertunel/Metro Tikinti JSC and the Azerbaijan Tunneling Association with ITA backing represents an important milestone in this respect.
Prof. In-Mo Lee (ITA president) provided a paper at the event as well as Olivier Vion (ITA-AITES executive director), Dr. Martin Herrenknecht (chairman of the board Herrenknecht AG) or Rick Lovat (president L2 Advisors Inc.) – to mention just a few of the many well-known national and international speakers present.
The 2-day event wound up with a seminar on September 12, 2012 by the Azerbaijan University of Architecture and Construction for students dealing with “Urban Tunnel Construction”. New tunnelling methods were presented here along with the latest technologies applied in underground construction. In addition, experiences gained in underground construction in various European cities were put forward. Experts and professors from industry and construction companies from a number of countries were available to present papers.⇥R.H.