The boring work of the first tube was completed in the first week of August last year
The Bangabandhu Tunnel under the river Karnaphuli, first of a kind in Bangladesh is expected to be open for vehicular movements next year, and it could even be well ahead of the scheduled time of December 2022.
Confirming the information, Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, project director of Karnaphuli Tunnel said: “One of the positive aspects of this project is that its duration and cost have not been increased. The work is being completed within the stipulated time.”
“There is a possibility that the construction works might even end earlier than scheduled,” he added.
The project director further said that manpower and equipment have been increased to speed up the work.
“Work is going on in full swing. We are working towards the goal of opening for moving vehicles through the tunnel before the end of next year.”
The construction work of the dream project reached a major milestone with completion of all boring-related work last Thursday, that arrived with the excavation of the second tube (from Anwara end of Chittagong to Patenga end) of the 3.315-km tunnel.
The boring work of the first tube was completed in the first week of August last year.
Project sources said 73 % construction work of Karnaphuli tunnel has been done and dusted. In the first year after it opens to vehicular movement, some 6.3 milli0n (63 lakh) vehicles will pass through this tunnel.
Most of these vehicles will be container trailers, various types of good laden trucks and covered vans.
Besides, tourist buses, cars and other vehicles can also move through the tunnel, making lives much easier for the national and international tourists.
Work is currently going on to complete 5.35km of approach roads on either side of the tunnel.
More than 360 acres of land have been acquired for the construction of roads and installments of utility lines and another 20 acres are to be acquired soon.
Once completed, the tunnel can be used as an alternative road from the Port City to Cox's Bazar, Teknaf, Matarbari and northern Chittagong.
To put things in context, the tunnel will reduce the distance from Chittagong to Cox's Bazar by 40-km
It will also connect Anwara upazila with the Port City.
In a nutshell, the tunnel, which is being constructed at a depth of 18 to 43 metres below the water, will connect Chittagong city with the other side of the Karnaphuli River.
Earlier, after a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on October 5, Planning Minister MA Mannan said: ”The tunnel was scheduled to open on December 22 next year. Now it seems I can turn it on even earlier.”
At this time, the minister also disclosed that the tunnel will be named as "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel."
The people of Anwara, Chittagong are now counting down the days for the inauguration of the tunnel of their dreams.
MA Qayyum Shah, the chairman of Barasat union of Anwara said: ”The tunnel connecting southern and northern Chittagong will open upn economic opportunities for our people.
Parki beach is a big tourist destination in South Chittagong. The place can attract a wide range of tourists once the construction work is completed, he added.
The construction work of the tunnel already brought in massive industrialization in Anwara and Karnaphuli upazilas of Chittagong.
As part of the project, a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has been formed in Anwara on the south bank of Karnafuli river.
The Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone, being built on 781 acres of land in Anwara on the south bank of the river, is expected to create 200,000 jobs. More than 10 overseas companies have already expressed interest in investing in the zone.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the multi-lane road tunnel at Tk8,446.64 crore. The cost later rose slightly to Tk10,374.42 crores.
While the government is financing half of the project, the Exim Bank of China is providing a hard loan of Tk5,913.19 crore at an interest rate of 2%.
China Communication Construction Company Ltd is working as the contractor for the project.