The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, beneath the Rive Karnaphuli in Chattogram, is all set for inauguration.
This historic project marks the country’s first-ever underwater tunnel like “One City, Two Towns” on the model of Shanghai in China.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the tunnel tomorrow. The flag of Bangladesh is flying around the project area to show its capabilities. The inauguration plaque is ready, rally stage is set.
The entire area from Patenga beach to Anwara is adorned with vibrant decorations. All the last-minute preparations are done for the colourful opening.
Through this, Bangladesh is going to enter the era of tunnels. The mood of the festival is going on in Chittagong and surrounding areas. Security has been beefed up in the Patenga area for the inauguration.
Coming from the port city, the tunnel swiftly connects Patenga to Anwara. It only takes 9 minutes for this reporter’s bus to cross the 3.32 km tunnel.
At 1:31pm on Thursday, the bus travelled from the Patenga end and reached the Anwara end by 1:39pm. During the journey, the vehicle’s speed in the tunnel ranged from 20 to 25 km per hour, although the tunnel permits a maximum speed of 80 kmph.
Currently, the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) is authorising a speed limit of 60 km per hour. At this maximum speed, the tunnel can be crossed in a mere 3 minutes.
It can be seen that there are two tubes in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel. Traffic from Anwara to Patenga will move through the south side tube. Traffic from Patenga to Anwara will be plying through the adjacent Northern tube. Each tube has a two-lane road and a walking space for emergency needs.
At the Anwara end of the tunnel, adjacent to Chittagong’s main river Karnaphuli, a toll plaza has been erected. This plaza comprises 15 toll booths. To access the tunnel from either end, vehicles must pass through the toll area.
Once past the toll plaza, two tunnel tubes run parallel, with a separation of approximately 12 meters between them. There are a total of four lanes, two in each tube. The south tube facilitates traffic from Anwara to Chattogam city, while the north tube allows traffic to travel from the Patenga Naval Academy in Chattogram towards Anwara.
Md Abul Hasan, a local businessman told The Daily Sun, “This tunnel is a different discovery for us. It will add a new level to the economy along with the industrialisation of the area. The business will increase… Modern communication between Dhaka-Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar will be easier. As a result, the communication system will be improved.”
If the proposed industrial area on the eastern side of the Karnaphuli River is developed and Chattogram city is located on the western side, a better and easier communication system will be developed with Chattogram port and airport, he added.
Adjacent to the main two tubes, three additional connecting tubes have been installed within the tunnel. These serve as passages in case of emergencies or accidents, allowing individuals to move from one tube to another.
Furthermore, a pre-installed tunnel provides an alternative exit route in case of any potential hazards. Given that the tunnel is located beneath the river, there is a possibility of water accumulation at any time. To address this concern, 52 irrigation pumps have been strategically placed within the tunnel.
Speaking to the Daily Sun, the project director of the tunnel Md Harunur Rashid Chowdhury said “We have completed all our preparations and are now eagerly awaiting the opening. The construction of the tunnel incorporates the latest technologies, and its operation will also rely on advanced technology. This ensures that our country’s tunnel is among the most modern globally.”
He added, “We’ve placed a strong emphasis on security, with state-of-the-art cameras and speedometers installed inside. Additionally, the tunnel’s design takes aesthetics into account. Today, we stand on the brink of unveiling the tunnel, although it’s worth noting that we encountered numerous challenges to reach this point.”
Mentionable, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the foundation stone of the tunnel project on 14 October 2016.
On 24 February 2019, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the boring work for the first tunnel tube.
Subsequently, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader inaugurated the boring work for the second tube on 12 December 12, 2020. The project however is scheduled for completion in December 2023.
The initial estimated cost of tunnel construction was Tk10,374 crores, which was later revised to Tk10,689 crores. The project is being implemented by the China Communications and Construction Company Limited (CCCC).
Source: The Daily SUN.