The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram is getting ready for traffic as its 98 per cent construction work is finished so far.
“Now the finishing touch is going on because Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the tunnel in September,” Project Director (PD) Md Harunur Rashid Chowdhury told BSS.
He said workers and engineers concerned are working round the clock for opening the much awaited tunnel in September.
“Already 98 per cent of the tunnel work has been completed. The remaining two per cent works will be completed soon. However, the project tenure will end on December 30,” he said.
The project director said there is no major work in the tunnel, while both tubes are ready, adding, “If everything goes well, then we can finish the work by August. However, the ministry will decide when it will be inaugurated.”
Earlier, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at a function said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will open the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel.
According to project details, the tunnel will actually turn Chattogram into "one city with two towns". It is being constructed beneath the Karnaphuli River and it is expected to be opened for vehicular movement in September this year.
The multilane tunnel will directly connect the Chattogram Port with Anwara upazila, which will directly connect Cox's Bazar with Chattogram.
The project details said, two tubes have been constructed within an 11-metre gap so that heavy vehicles can pass through the tunnel easily.
The length of the tunnel is 3.40 kilometres with an approach road of 5.35 kilometres alongside a 740-metre bridge linking the main city, port and the western side of the river with its eastern side.
As part of the project, bridges, totalling 740 metres in length have been built, linking the main port city and western side of Karnaphuli River with the heavily industrializing eastern side of the river and Anwara upazila.
Bangabandhu's daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the boring work of the first tunnel tube on February 24, 2019.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly laid the foundation stone of the Bangabandhu Tunnel on October 14, 2016. China Communications Construction Company Ltd is working as the contractor of the project.
The tunnel will connect the proposed Asian Highway with Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Highway along with reducing the distance by 40km. Vehicles in this tunnel will run at a speed of 80km per hour.
Bangabandhu Tunnel is being built at a cost of Tk 10,374 crore. The tunnel project is being implemented with joint funding from the governments of Bangladesh and China. The Exim Bank of China is giving a loan of Tk 5,913 crore at two per cent interest while the Bangladesh government is funding the remaining portion.
Newly elected president of Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries and former president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industries Mahbubul Alam recently told BSS that once the tunnel is opened, it will be a game changer for the southeast region of Bangladesh, presenting a solution to connectivity issues to the rest of the country.