The dreams come true for millions especially for the residents of commercial capital and port city as the much-anticipated multilane underwater expressway tunnel, first of its kind in South Asia, constructed beneath the river Karnaphuli, a major watercourse of this region, will be inaugurated on Saturday.
“The tunnel is expected to elevate Bangladesh into a new level of prominence in the world, as it is also the region's first ever under river road tunnel,” Md. Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, director of the mega project, told BSS today.
He said the tunnel will turn Chattogram city into “one city with two towns” like Chinese city of Shanghai as it will expand the periphery of the city with boosting economy and opening new doors of immense potentials for industrialization, and expansion of trade and commerce and developing road connectivity in the entire region.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will open the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel by unveiling a plaque on the west bank of river Karnaphuli at Patenga and after crossing the tunnel, she will undrape another plaque at the south bank of the river at Anwara at 11am, as per the premier’s daily programme schedule, although the tunnel will be opened to vehicles from October 29.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Mahbubul Alam said Bangladesh is going to enter the era of underwater road tunnel which is of course a pride for the entire nation as well it will facilitate the business community hugely.
Bangabandhu tunnel will boost industrialization in the region as two export processing zones in Chattogram-KEPZ in Anwara and Chattogram EPZ in Halishahar- and Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone (CEIZ) in Anwara will be highly facilitated by the tunnel, he said and thus it will have significant contributions to the country’s economy like Padma Bridge.
The tunnel will connect the proposed Asian Highway with Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Highway by reducing distance by 40km and it will also facilitate the ongoing and planned power and energy hub in Cox’s Bazar, which is already a tourist hub of the country, he (FBBCI) president added.
Apart from the tunnel, he said, if a Dhaka-Chattogram expressway can be built and a master plan is taken to boost a planned industrialization on the bank of river Karnaphuli to turn it as a Smart city, it will be highly beneficial for country’s economy as well as it can boost Bangladesh’s connectivity with ‘seven sisters’ of India including Mizoram and Manipur expanding trade and business as well as tourism in the region.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also Awami League president, will address a public rally on Korean EPZ (KEPZ) ground at Anwara on Saturday as a huge number of people including leaders and workers of the ruling Awami League and associate bodies are expected to attend it.
The premier will also release a special commemorative postage stamp, opening day envelope and a special seal marking the inauguration of the first ever underwater road tunnel. Apart from the tunnel, she will also open and lay foundation stones of some projects in Chattogram on the occasion.
AL’s Chattogram south district unit is organizing the rally and a festive atmosphere has been prevailing all over the district for the gala occasion.
“All preparations are at the final stage as Chattogram as well as the entire country is eagerly waiting for the grand inauguration of the much-awaited Bangabandhu tunnel,” Chattogram South District AL president Motaherul Islam Chowdhury told BSS.
He said a large boat shaped stage are being erected in the venue for the rally as Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader will also be in the dais with Mothaherul Islam Chowdhury in the chair.
Chowdhury said all-out preparations have been taken to facilitate participants of the rally as sanitations and sufficient water supply will be ensured at the venue and separate arrangements for smooth participation of the females as well.
“Our public rally will be turned into a vast human sea with the participation of nearly a million of people,” he expected.
He said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is a matter of pride not only for Chattogram but for the entire nation.
The tunnel will connect the proposed Asian Highway with Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Highway by reducing distance by 40km.
It has been built at a cost of Taka 10,374 crore and of which around half is financed by the Exim Bank of China.
As per the project details, the length of the entire route is 9.39 kilometers (5.83 mi), with the tunnel making up 3.32 kilometers (2.06 mi) of the length while it’s diameter is 10.80 meters (35.4 ft).
It will improve the Dhaka—Chittagong—Cox's Bazar highway network. A Chinese company, China Communications Construction Company, constructed it.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the construction site of the Karnaphuli Tunnel on 14 October 2017.
On 24 February 2019, Sheikh Hasina also inaugurated the tunnel boring phase.
The tunnel will cut the road distance between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar and facilitate traffic on Dhaka-Chattogram Highway entering the port city to go to other parts of Chattogram division.
The multilane tunnel route passes through the river close to Navy College on one side and Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company (KAFCO) on the other.
It connects Chittagong port and Anwara upazila and is expected to make communication between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar easier. It will also ease traffic congestion on two bridges over the Karnaphuli River.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said on a daily basis 17,260 vehicles will be able to use the tunnel equating to some 7.6 million vehicles a year.
The tunnel would help increase the country's annual GDP growth by 0.166pc, Quader, who is also general secretary of the ruling Awami League, told reporters at a press briefing at Setu Bhaban in Dhaka today.
“The tunnel will also cut the distance among Chattogram city, the seaport and the airport as it will play a crucial role in making the economy more vibrant,” Quader said.
Deputy commissioner of Chattogram Abul Bashar Mohammad Fakruzzaman also said the tunnel will expedite the county’s economy and regional trade and commerce by turning Chattogram into one city with two towns.
A three-layer security measures will be ensured at the venue for the inauguration of the tunnel, he said.