Tunnel planned on Seychelles’ main island will reduce congestion, increase productivity, advisor says

The construction of a tunnel on Seychelles' most populated island -- Mahe -- will help bring down the cost of living, an advisor to the President says.

Economic advisor Bertrand Belle said the building of a tunnel between Cascade -- an eastern Mahe district -- and Grand Anse on the western side will reduce costs related to the transportation of either merchandise or people.

One, it will save on time and the amount of fuel used. It will also reduce wear and tear on vehicles and the road if you build a tunnel, said Belle.

He added that spending less time on the road will result in more time in the office or at home, both of which are good for the country.

These statements were made during the cabinet press briefing held on June 21 after the cabinet of ministers approved a series of infrastructural projects. Apart from the construction of the tunnel, a dam will be built in the district of Grand Anse Mahe, and the reclamation of five areas around Mahe and Praslin.

During the construction of the tunnel, rocks removed during the drilling and borrowing can be used to build the dam. Belle explained that the tunnel will also facilitate the transfer of water from one end of the island to another, once the dam at Grand Anse is completed.

In his State of the Nation Address, President Danny Faure said that there are plans to build two tunnels on Mahe. Belle said that to start off, only one tunnel will be built and once it is well established and working, we will be able to move on to the next.

Since the announcement of the project, there have been responses saying that the money to be used in the project should be injected into other sectors such as health and road development.

The tunnel project is expected to cost $63.14 million. In his fifth press conference, President Danny Faure announced that the funds for this project should not come from the government's budget.

Belle said that the government is liaising with the private sector to see if it is possible for them to finance some of these projects as well as the possibility of taking certain loans.

If the private sector invests in the tunnel project, the only way that the private party will be able to get a return for its investment is to charge people using the tunnel, said Belle.

Due to this, there is the possibility that the tunnel will function as a toll road -- a public or private road for which a fee is charged for passage. Currently, the western side of Mahe is linked to the eastern and central sides by four cross-island main roads -- Sans Soucis, La Misere, Montagne Posee and Les Canelles.

Some of the projects approved will start in 2019 while others will commence in 2020. On the time frame for the construction of the tunnel, Belle said that it can take between 15 to 36 months to build. This depends on if it is drilled from both ends and one end only.

Though the environmental impact study has not been carried out, Belle said that that there shouldn't be too much impact in the surroundings. Answering a question about meeting water through the drilling he said that should they meet water, the area will be clogged and a lining will be placed causing the water will self-divert.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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