Communication network will expand, economic activities will boost
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to inaugurate the much-awaited tunnel boring work under the Karnaphuli River on February 24.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the tunnel boring work under the Karnaphuli River on February 24,” Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, project director of Multilane Road Tunnel under River Karnaphuli, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“Around 32% work of the mammoth project, which is first of its kind in Bangladesh, has already been completed,” he added.
A tunnel boring machine (TBM) has already been procured from China for this purpose.
The machine can excavate tunnels in a circular cross section through a variety of soil and rock layers. It can bore through hard rock, sand, and almost anything in between.
Project to open a new horizon
The mammoth project will open a new horizon in terms of trade and commerce in Chittagong.
The multi-lane road tunnel would take the communication system of the premier port city to a new height and overall economic activities in the region will get a boost, said business community leaders and entrepreneurs.
Terming the tunnel project a landmark phenomenon, Mahbubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said that the tunnel will surely enhance the capacity of the Chittagong Port Authority.
"A new city is expected to be developed in the southern part of Chittagong. More and more industrial units will be set up in the KEPZ and at the exclusive Chinese economic zone in Anwara upazila, and huge employment opportunities will be created,” said Alam, who is also chairman of Port Users’ Forum, a platform of Chittagong port stakeholders.
A blessing to BGMEA
Md Ferdous, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the tunnel project would open a new window of opportunity for the people.
“Once completed, the tunnel will provide an impetus to the overall business activities in the region; it will appear as a blessing to garments manufacturers and exporters as it will connect the country to the Asian highway under ‘One City Two Town’ model,” added the BGMEA leader.
The four-lane tunnel will be 3.5km in length, with around 6 kilometres of approach roads on both sides of the river. The multi-lane tunnel will connect Chittagong city to the other side of Karnaphuli River, and indirectly with other parts of the country through the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar highways, reducing road distance and easing the heavy port-city-bound traffic from the capital.
Siltation a major threat
Due to the river morphology, siltation on the bed of the Karnaphuli is a big problem and a major threat to proper operational activities at Chittagong port.
To tackle the problem of siltation, the government planned to construct a tunnel crossing the Karnaphuli, instead of building another bridge over the river, says the feasibility study of the tunnel project.
The tunnel project is set up in the right direction to get rid of the siltation problem on the bed of the Karnaphuli.
Cost of the project
On November 24, 2015, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the multi-lane road tunnel project under the Karnaphuli River at an estimated cost of Tk 8,446 crore. However, the project cost rose to Tk 9,880 crore due to the increase in compensation cost for land acquisition.
The China Communication Construction Company will carry out the construction work of the tunnel.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the foundation stone of the colossal project on October 14, 2016. The construction work of the project commenced on December 5, 2017, and is likely to be completed by 2022.