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A gigantic task strewn with challenges

October 28, 2023 00:00:00

FE: Would you please share your experience about construction of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel as you are involved in it during the entire physical work?

The PD: I took the charge of the PD at the very moment of starting the physical work in January 2018. Initially it was challenging for me to be involved in such a new kind of the project. So it is obviously a great feeling to see completion of the work after so many challenges overcoming. What an engineer desires after retirement to work as consultant, I was also not an exception. But engineering and technical knowledge of a technical person certainly helps overcome problems in any technical project during the implementation period as they can predict or assess the problems much before a non-technical person can do which also helps resolve it in time.

FE: What kind of challenges did you face at the beginning as the tunnel concept was totally new for BBA and you?

The PD: The first challenge of the tunnel project was to manage the loan amount by meeting the condition of handing over entire land area to the Chinese contractor as per the loan agreement. As the country's usual trend for the delay in development projects is centered on land acquisition and utility shifting related complications, the project faced the first two challenges at the beginning.

Second challenge came when the north tube excavation work began. After completing 50 per cent of the work, it was found the tunnel boring machine (TBM) could not be run properly. The machine had been floated above for inability to maintain the balance due to soft earth beneath the river bed. Centering this some other problems were also created in the excavation work on the north tunnel. So tunnel work was suspended for several months to let the Chinese company's expert as well as our experts arrive and resolve the problem. But this helped the contractor to complete the south tube in 10 days, when the north tube took 17 days.

Next challenge of the project was due to the coronavirus, when manufacturing and shipment of necessary machinery and equipment from China were hit. Besides, the Ukraine war also created a problem with timely arrival of these. When lockdown kept all activities suspended, we got all kinds of cooperation from the higher authorities to complete port formalities. We could convince the Chinese people to stay in the country. So, despite loss of time, the project did not face delay in completing the work.

FE: As far as your experience is concerned, how much are you confident about its traffic projection?

The PD: Though the review study was done in 2017, the daily traffic was estimated at 17,350at at the beginning and it was predicted to increase to 60,000 in 2040. We will understand the situation shortly after the inauguration. But I am confident as a resident of Chattogram that this tunnel will play a significant role in the economic growth by increasing traffic, especially after functioning of Matarbari Deep-sea. In the case of DEE, the BBA sees the traffic crossed the prediction level from the day of inauguration. SoI am confident.

FE: What kind of expertise has the country earned from the tunnel construction work?

The PD: Under the RHD, we have earned experience. But in the tunnel project, engineers under the discipline of civil and electromechanical work have started learning through watching the work. Some 44 engineers were engaged in this project from consultancy level which may help the BBA to carry out the work on subway in the future.

FE: As you have said eight systems have been installed for operation and maintenance of the tunnel. What are those?

The PD: After completion of the civil work on two tubes which connected the tunnel from both banks in November last year, the system installation work began. All these systems include ventilation system, water drainage, fire fighting system, power system and safety and security system. All are independent as well as integrated for ensuring running the communication system and safety and security of the tunnel and people. For example, seepage water which will be deposited under the road tube will be pumped out automatically as part of the water draining system. Under the fire fighting system, four other systems will work like water hydrant system, smoke detector system, miking and telephoning system. The power system has back-up generators, emergency power system, etc. in case the power supply from the national grid is suspended.

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