The construction work of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first ever under-river tunnel in South Asia beneath the Karnaphuli river in Bangladesh, is nearing completion by the end of 2022.
Since the construction work of the tunnel has almost been completed, it was scheduled to open in December this year. However, the tunnel is expected to open to traffic in next March.
Officials said that the much-awaited tunnel that is being constructed under the Karnaphuli river in Chattogram is almost ready to open for traffic and they were ready to inaugurate it in December 2022. However, the construction work of the intersection roads at the sides of Patenga and Anwara are yet to be fully completed.
Against this backdrop, the authorities concerned have deferred the date of inauguration of the tunnel to next March.
Project Director MdHarunur Rashid said that 98 per cent of construction work of the Bangabandhu tunnel was completed
by the end of November 2022. Rest of the work is going on with a target of completing the work within first week of February 2023.
He also said that the construction work of the tunnel will be completed before the schedule. After the completion of the rest of the works, other issues including driving through the tunnel will be checked and then it will be opened for traffic. It will be possible to inaugurate it in March 2023.
Meanwhile, the draft list for toll has been finalized. Goods carrying vehicles will get importance in the Bangabandhu tunnel and there will discount on the toll. It was proposed for higher toll for private vehicles than for goods vehicles.
Sources in the Bridges Division said that the draft toll proposal will be sent to the Prime Minister after the approval of the Finance Division. If the Prime Minister agrees, the Bridges Division of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges will publish the toll list of the tunnel.
It was known that the toll of the tunnel is being fixed based on the toll amount of the Shah Amanat Bridge of Chattogram. According to the sources, the toll may increase by one and a half to three times compared to Shah Amanat Bridge. The list of toll deals with 12 types of traffic.
There is a committee to determine the toll of the Bangabandhu Tunnel. The committee is working to fix the toll.
Bridges Division Secretary MdMonjur Hossain said that the length of Bangabandhu tunnel is three times more than that of Shah Amanat Bridge. So, it is usual that the toll will be higher in the tunnel than in the bridge. The committee will finalize the toll rate after checking various issues.
Prof ShamsulHaque of BUET said that the management cost of tunnel is much higher than that of the bridge. So, the toll will be higher than any bridge. He also said that there is no need to spend any money for lighting and air on bridge. No fire prevention system is required. But extra budget has to be allotted for light and air in a tunnel. Advanced technology is used in the Bangabandhu tunnel. Foreigners will monitor it regularly. As a result, these costs must be collected from the toll.
The Bangabandhu tunnel which is being 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.
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.
The Bangabandhu tunnel route passes through the Karnaphuliriver 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 Karnaphuliriver 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 work of south tube of the Bangabandhu tunnel was completed in last November. However, 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.
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.
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.