EASST supports stakeholder training on the safety of road tunnels in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

This month EASST has collaborated with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Automobile Club (BIHAMK) and Greek tunnel safety experts from Enalos Research and Development Ltd. to lead a three-day training programme for local highway authorities and engineers on road safety in tunnels in Sarajevo supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Shareholders Special Fund.

The training centred on the development of Corridor Vc, a major transit corridor development project which spans the length of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project includes 41 tunnels that exceed 500 metres – with three over 3 kilometres and one more than 10 kilometres. The key aim of the training was to build a practical understanding of how authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina can meet the requirements of the EU Directives on Road Tunnel Safety (2004/54) and on Road Safety Management (2008/96) which represent best practice standards required by the EBRD in its road investments.

Road risk in tunnels is different and often more severe to that of open roads, making them potential ‘death traps’ for anyone inside the tunnel at the time of a collision. Specific dangers include a heightened susceptibility to “fire, spillage, congestion, flooding, and over-height vehicles.”[1] Unlike the open road, there is a need to consider issues such as ventilation, direct communications with vehicles and escape routes. Additional challenges related to accessibility and incident management mean that special measures are needed to ensure timely and effective post-crash response.

[1] https://toolkit.irap.org/road-types/tunnels/

The training aimed to provide road authorities, designers and technicians working in road tunnel traffic management and construction throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina with a better understanding of how to implement best practice standards. Key issues included how to carry out realistic risk assessments, what is needed for effective emergency management and planning, how to test systems regularly through periodic exercises, and what human and material resources are needed to manage road tunnel risk.  On the final day, participants visited the ‘1st March’ tunnel near Sarajevo to review the current systems, procedures, equipment and challenges managed by the tunnel Control Centre and the Fire Brigade.

Throughout the training a clear need was demonstrated for practical examples and the sharing of information by experts who themselves manage road tunnel safety – meeting best practice standards in countries facing similar challenges.

In the words of Tomislav Bojić, Chief of the Unit for Road Safety in the Federal Ministry of Traffic and Communications and Transport:

“I hope this is just the beginning….the training was extremely successful and achieved success with the participants who attended.”

Other participants praised the “exhaustive and comprehensive explanations” and the “very significant experience of the lecturer” for making the course productive and useful.

EASST hopes to build on this experience to develop online training on road tunnel safety for use in our partner countries and elsewhere. We thank the local team at BIHAMK for their tremendous support, and all the participants for their active engagement and excellent feedback for the future.