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Hopes high about dev as Karnaphuli tunnel’s south tube work ends

Munima Sultana from Karnaphuli Tunnel in Patenga, Chattogram | November 27, 2022 00:00:00

The Karnaphuli tunnel in Chattogram will help drive the local economy through facilitating industrial development and regional connectivity.

The tunnel, which is a result of an unconventional diplomacy with China, will be a new addition to the two existing infrastructure that connect the southeastern region with the port city - Kalurghat Bridge constructed in 1930 and Shah Amanat Bridge constructed in 2010.

The country's first underwater tunnel below the Karnaphuli River will also ensure smooth road connectivity with Cox's Bazar, thus boosting tourism in the region.

Speakers made the comments at a function on Saturday, organised to mark completion of the physical work of one of the two tubes of the under-construction Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the function virtually from her official Ganobhaban residence. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam were present at that time.

Moderated by Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office Ahmad Kaikaus, the event was addressed by Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming and Bridges Division Secretary Monzur Hossain at the celebration site in the port city's Patenga.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Haque Shamim, and Chattogram City Corporation Mayor Rezaul Karim Chowdhury also attended the event. Around 2,000 invited guests joined the celebration too.

The prime minister said the tunnel will uplift the image of the country abroad.

It will allow people to visit Cox's Bazar and facilitate expansion of the Chattogram port, she said, adding that the deep seaport in Matarbari and power plant in Moheshkhali will also increase the importance of the Chattogram city in the future.

Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said the Bangabandhu Tunnel is the result of the unconventional diplomacy of the prime minister.

The Chinese government came forward to support the project at the last moment even after they dropped the project from the agenda during the PM's visit to China in June 2014, he said.

The tunnel project has also set an example of learning for other agencies in the government as it has been implemented without major challenges in all these years, he pointed out.

Mr Islam, who was the Bridges Division secretary at the time of signing contract with the Chinese contractor - China Communication and Construction Company (CCCC), said the project implementation was fast due to taking quick and timely decisions in line with PM's guidance.

Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming referred to the benefit of the tunnel in optimising local transportation networks as well as facilitating connectivity with neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh has become a role model in inspiring LDCs around the world, he observed.

"We can see milestones in the infrastructure progress one after another," he said, while viewing his country's engagement in this infrastructural development as a faithful friend and reliable strategic partner.

Referring to his recent visit to export-processing zones (EPZ), the envoy said over 100 Chinese companies have invested in the EPZs, creating job opportunities for 129,000 people.

Speaking on the occasion, Bridges Division Secretary Monzur Hossain said the tunnel is likely to contribute 0.166 per cent to the country's GDP.

Bangladesh Bridges Authority, the implementing agency of the Tk 105.37 billion Bangabandhu Tunnel project, completed the 2.45 km tube of the tunnel, paving the way for inaugurating the 3.32km tunnel in a couple of months.

Project Director Harunur Rashid said civil work of another tube on the northern side of the tunnel will be completed soon as only two per cent work is needed to be done.

Overall progress of the project has been 94 per cent so far, he said, hoping to complete the remaining six per cent by the end of February next year.

According to a feasibility study done in 2014, some 15,000-20,000 vehicles will use the tunnel per day.

The government took the initiative to construct the tunnel under the Karnaphuli to build 'one city two towns' in line with the concept of Shanghai, China.

With financial support of Tk 59.13 billion from the Exim Bank of China, Chinese firm CCCC is working as the project contractor. It also conducted the feasibility study and was appointed as the operator for operation and maintenance work.

According to the project information, the tunnel starts from western side of the Patenga Naval Academy and its eastern side ends in Anwara thana through a road between Chattogram Urea Fertiliser Factory and KAFCO Urea Fertiliser Factory.

The approach road at Patenga side is 0.55 km and at Anwara side 4.8 km including 750 metres viaduct. The total length with approach road and tunnel is 9.39 km.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the foundation of the project on October 14, 2014. She also inaugurated the first tube boring work on February 24, 2019. The RTB minister inaugurated the second tube boring work on December 12, 2020.

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