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19 August 2004

Mott MacDonald helps develop utility tunnel for Durban Harbour, South Africa

Mott MacDonald is part of the team that has won the contract to develop a new 4.5 m diameter, 500 m long tunnel to carry services under the harbour for Durban’s eThekwini Municipality Water and Sanitation.

Durban Harbour is the busiest container port and harbour in Africa, and approximately 5000 ships visit it each year. As part of the approximately £80 million harbour expansion, the tunnel will replace an existing immersed tube tunnel when the harbour is widened and deepened in 2006.

Dredging works for the harbour expansion will cut through the existing tunnel. This means that the new, longer and deeper tunnel needs to be in place and fully fitted-out before the harbour expansion can begin – resulting in a tight design and construction schedule. There are also plans to construct a ‘people mover’ tunnel which will ferry people from one side of the harbour to the other and will help in promoting tourism.

Working with South African engineers, GMKS, Mott MacDonald’s role involves providing technical assistance on the various tunnelling options as well as advice on the people mover options and soft ground tunnelling. South Africa has strong experience and knowledge in hard ground tunnelling, but not as much practice in soft ground tunnelling. The ground conditions expected will be river deposits and sandy clay which would suit the use of either slurry or EPB tunnel machines, which have not previously been used in southern Africa.

Construction work on the tunnel will begin in 2005 with completion scheduled for 2006.

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