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Focus on Chattogram

A new phase of development

Bangabandhu tunnel

NAZIMUDDIN SHYAMOL | December 10, 2023 12:00:00

This photo taken on Nov. 26, 2022 shows the inner look of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first underwater tunnel in South Asia, in Chattogram, Bangladesh — Xinhua Photo

The dream of the people of Chattogram has come true. The 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel' is now a reality. The first ever tunnel of the country under the river Karnaphuli has ushered in a new era for the communication sector aiding the industrial and economic development.

The multilane tunnel directly connects Chittagong port with South Chattogram, particularly Anwara, and eases communication between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar. The tunnel also helps ease traffic congestions on two bridges over the Karnaphuli River.

Starting from the Naval Academy end of Patenga in Chattogram, the tunnel runs between two points--Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited (CUFL) and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company (KAFCO) in Anwara. The main tunnel is 3.32km long and has two tubes, each with two lanes. There is a 5.35km connecting road allowing cars to run at a maximum speed of 80km.

Chinese enterprises have implemented a number of significant infrastructure projects in Bangladesh in the transportation, energy, power, and communications sectors, which have helped the country's economy and society flourish. The "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel" is one of them and it is a milestone in the field of China-Bangladesh cooperation. The tunnel has created the opportunity to build the port city of Chattogram like the Chinese city of Shanghai based on the model of "One City, Two Towns." On two sides of the Karnaphuli there will be two towns.

According to a study of the government, a range of social and economic benefits are expected to result from the tunnel. They include better connectivity, industrial as well as infrastructural development, reduced traffic jams on the existing bridges, shorter travel time and better utilisation of land. It will also help transport raw materials and value-added products efficiently via the airport and the seaport and help establish direct connectivity with the Deep-sea Port to be developed in Sonadia Island.

The multilane tunnel passes through the river close to the Naval College on one side and the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company (KAFCO) on the other. The tunnel cuts the road distance between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar, apart from facilitating heavy traffic on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway entering the port city for going to other parts of Chattogram division.

According to the study, once the tunnel is fully activated, the Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) for the financial and economic sectors will be 1.05 and 1.50 per cent respectively. The tunnel will have a positive impact on the economy. At the tunnel's Anwara end, there are Perki Beach, CUFL, and Korean and Chinese EPZs.

The southern part of Bangladesh's road network will undergo a revolutionary change due to the tunnel. A modern communication system is being developed with Cox's Bazar, Banshkhali, and Matarbari power plant and the Matarbari deep-sea port via Anwara crossing through the Karnaphuli tunnel. Through it a connection will also be established with the Asian Highway. The tunnel will be used by 7.6 million cars annually after three years of operation. The tunnel will turn the port city into a business hub.

Incumbent FBCCI president Mahbubul Alam said, "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is a dream project of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. After inauguration of the tunnel, the picture of the Chattogram is changing. The tunnel will open the door for investment and trades in Chattogram. The tunnel may gear up the economic activities of the country. A new city will be developed in the southern part of Chattogram. More industries will be set up in the KEPZ and in the exclusive Chinese economic zone at Anwara."

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the excavation under the Karnaphuli on February 24 in 2019. Deputy Minister of Education Barrister Muhibul Hasan Chowdhury MP in a cabinet meeting proposed naming the tunnel Bangabandhu Tunnel. The cabinet meeting and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed on the proposal.

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