The construction work on the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first under-river tunnel in South Asia, has reached a major milestone after the completion of its south tube.
Almost 94 percent of the construction work of the much-awaited multilane tunnel that is being constructed under the Karnaphuli river in Chattogram has been completed.
The construction work of the country’s second dream scheme after the Padma Bridge is expected to be completed by December this year. Against this backdrop, it is expected to be opened to traffic in January 2023.
The Bangabandhu tunnel, built at a cost of Tk 103.84 billion, will directly connect the port city with South Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar. After inauguration of the tunnel, road communication with Cox’s Bazar from Dhaka and Chattogram would be very easy and faster.
Besides, the country’s economy will get momentum and tourism, economic activities and trade and commerce in the entire Chattogram region will be further expanded and strengthened.
The government took the tunnel project aiming to connect the two banks of the Karnaphuli to build ‘one city two towns’ on the model of Shanghai of China.
However, the completion of the south tube of the Bangabandhu tunnel was celebrated on Saturday (November 26).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the celebration virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader chaired the event, while Bridges Division Secretary Md Monjur Hossain delivered the welcome speech. Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming also spoke on the occasion, while PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the event.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, former minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Hoque Shameem, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury and Whip Shamsul Huq, among others, were present at the Chattogram end.
At the ceremony, a video documentary on the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel was screened.
On 24 February in 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the boring work of the first tunnel tube.
The Bangabandhu tunnel route passes through the Karnaphuli river close to Navy College on one side and Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company (KAFCO) on the other side.
The total length of the tunnel is around 9.092 kilometres including 3.40 kilometres under the Karnaphuli river with an approach road of 4.89 kilometres alongside 740 metres of bridges linking the main port city and western side of the Karnaphuli along with the heavy industry-prone eastern side of the river.
The tunnel is being constructed at a depth of 18 to 31 metres under the Karnaphuli. The length of each of the two tubes, having four lanes, is 2.45km. Each of the tubes has a 10.80-metre diameter.
The first tube was finished on August 2 in 2020. Boring for the second tube began on December 12 in 2020, and construction was completed on October 7 in 2021.
The most critical task after the boring of the two main tubes was the installation of the three cross passages interconnecting the Bangabandhu tunnel’s two tubes.
China Communication Construction Company Ltd is constructing the Bangabandhu tunnel with more than 800 workers deployed.
According to a survey carried out in 2013 before the construction of the tunnel, 6.3 million vehicles will be able to move through the tunnel annually. According to that, about 17260 vehicles can run in a day.
By 2025, an average of 28,305 vehicles will travel through the Bangabandhu tunnel every day, while an average of 37,946 vehicles per day by 2030 and 162,000 vehicles are estimated by 2067.
PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus has visited the construction work of the Bangabandhu tunnel. The overall progress of the tunnel is at 94 per cent, he told reporters while visiting the inauguration venue on Friday.
He said, “It is expected that work of the tunnel will be completed in January next and the tunnel will be opened for public.”
Dr Ahmad Kaikaus also said it is expected that the tunnel will contribute 0.166% to the growth of the national economy. The tunnel will greatly improve the traffic situation in Chattogram and promote economic development of the country, he added.
According to the authorities concerned, the Bangabandhu tunnel will cut down the time it takes to travel from Anwara to Patenga to just two-and-a-half minutes. It currently takes over an hour, and sometimes two hours, to cross the Karnaphuli River using the Shah Amanat Bridge.
Project Director Md Harunur Rashid said, “The construction work on one of the two tubes has been completed. The other tube’s work is still ongoing. Along with this, the road work has already been completed.”
Bridges Division Secretary Md Monjur Hossain said that a modern communication system would be developed with Cox’s Bazar, Banshkhali, and Matarbari power plants and Matarbari deep sea port via Anwara crossing through the Karnaphuli tunnel.