In a momentous development set to redefine the landscape of southeastern Bangladesh, three mega projects are rapidly nearing completion, poised to usher in a new era of prosperity and connectivity for the nation.
The inauguration of the Bangabandhu Tunnel, Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Rail Line, and the Chattogram Elevated Expressway by November this year promises to bring about a significant paradigm shift, one that will not only bolster the country’s communication network but also invigorate its industrial and tourism sectors.
The projects are also expected to elevate Chattogram to the status of a regional trade and commerce hub.
The mega projects being implemented at a cost of around Tk33,022 crore aim at improving road communications in the country’s southeastern region, getting connected with the Asian highway network, ensuring safer and more comfortable transportation for locals and foreign tourists and facilitating smoother movement to and from the Chattogram Port and Shah Amanat International Airport.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to open the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel beneath the River Karnaphuli on 28 October while the Chattogram (Dohazari)-Cox’s Bazar Rail Line on 12 November.
Although the Chattogram Elevated Expressway will be opened in November, the exact date is yet to be finalised, officials involved with the project said.
President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Mahbubul Alam told the Daily Sun that road, air, water and rail connectivity is the main driving force for the economy of a country.
“Those take trade and commerce forward. The annual import volume of the country was once 5-10 lakh tonnes. With an increase in the demand, it presently stands at around 1 crore tonnes,” he said.
“Connectivity is very important for facilitating transportation of a large volume of products and boosting the tourism industry further,” Mahbubul Alam said.
The “One City, Two Towns” concept will be materialised with the launching of the Bangabandhu Tunnel, he said, adding the upgraded connectivity will also result in massive industrialisation in South Chattogram.
The under-construction deep seaport and energy hub at Matarbari in Cox’s Bazar, Bay Terminal in the city and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpanagar at Mirsharai will benefit greatly from the enhanced connectivity, noted Mahbubul Alam, immediate past president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).
Additionally, the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar rail line will expand the tourism industry not just in Cox’s Bazar but also in neighbouring hill districts, including Bandarban, he said.
Referring to the increased connectivity following the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the business leader hoped that the connectivity centring on Chattogram will bring benefit for the businesspeople and the tourists from the both home and abroad.
Highlighting the indomitable advancement of the country, he said Bangladesh will be the nation of 35th economy in the globe by 2030 and become a trillion-dollar economy before 2041. “So, infrastructural advancement is a must to cope with the future challenges.”
Echoing the FBCCI president, First Vice-President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Syed Nazrul Islam said as soon as the communication system is enhanced, the inter-city and inter-country connectivity will increase.
The improved connectivity will draw more investment from home and abroad and boost industrialisation in Chattogram, which will create opportunity for huge employment, he said.
“Country’s exports will be increased following new industrialisation. Consequently, the earnings of foreign currency will mark a rise,” said Nazrul Islam.
South Chattogram, including Cox’s Bazar, is the largest natural travel zone of the country. The government has prioritised tourism centring on Cox’s Bazar for expansion of the sector, he said.
Bangladesh will witness the reflection of the mega projects within the next 10 years, the BGMEA leader said, adding that the rail line and tunnel will help attract more investment as new economic zones will be developed in Chattogram.
Architect Zarina Hossain, secretary of the Forum for Planned Chittagong (FPC), said development is an unquestionable necessity for advancement of a country and its economy too.
“The mega projects will bring benefit for people. But it should be ensured so that maximum people benefit from the projects,” she said.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the much-awaited Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel on 28 October.
The Bangladesh Bridge Authority under the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry has constructed the tunnel, first under-river tunnel in South Asia, with an aim to connect the southern part of the port city with Anwara upazila following the model of ‘One City, Two Towns’.
The project objectives include improvement of road communications in the country’s southeastern region, getting connected with the Asian highway network, planned urbanisation on both banks of the river and enhancing facilities for Chattogram Port.
China Communications Construction Company Limited constructed the dream 9.39km multi-lane tunnel, which will connect the Naval avenue point of the port city with CUFL point under Anwara.
Project Director Harunur Rashid Chowdhury said all necessary commissioning and drills have already been completed and the tunnel is now fully ready for traffic.
As per the schedule, the architectural marvel will be opened to traffic on October 29, a day after the inauguration.
Chattogram (Dohazari)-Cox’s Bazar Rail Line
The eagerly anticipated Chattogram (Dohazari)-Cox’s Bazar Rail Line Project is nearing completion to be inaugurated by the prime minister on November 12.
Officials concerned said the test run of train through the newly laid track is expected to be conducted at the end of October 15.
Currently, the Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar highway serves as the principal connection between the beach town and the rest of the country. However, it struggles to cope with the large influx of tourists and goods transportation to and from Cox’s Bazar.
The railway project aims at addressing these challenges, ensuring safer, more comfortable and cheaper transportation for locals and tourists alike, and facilitating the more efficient transport of agricultural goods.
Project Director Md Suboktogin told the Daily Sun that the fast-track mega project has clocked some 92 percent progress.
After the inauguration, the commercial operation of trains will start later, he said.
The total railway distance from Chattogram to Cox’s Bazar is approximately 154 kilometres with an existing 54km track between Chattogram and Dohazari.
A 102km track from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar via Ramu was established in the first phase followed by a 28km one from Ramu to Ghumdhum in the second phase.
The project, which costs around Tk18,034 crore, was initiated in 2016.
Ctg Elevated Expressway
The first-ever elevated expressway in Chattogram – from Lalkhan Bazar to Shah Amanat International Airport – is set to be opened in November this year, promising significant traffic alleviation in the port city.
With around 80 percent progress, girder installation is now going on swiftly from Dewanhat to Lalkhan Bazar, the connection point with existing Akhtaruzzaman Flyover.
Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) is implementing the project at a cost of Tk4,298 crore.
CDA Executive Engineer and PD Md Mahfuzur Rahman said once completed, the main 16.5-km flyover will be opened to traffic in November.
“We’ll then begin constructing the 14 ramps to complete all components of this mega project,” he said, adding the date for opening the project is yet to be finalised.
The project aims to improve connectivity between Chattogram city and South Chattogram, cut travel distance and expense for commuters and facilitate smoother movement to and from the Chattogram Port and Shah Amanat International Airport.
The expressway will feature four lanes and 14 ramps at different points. This will take the total length of the expressway to 28.5 km, said sources.
Source: The Daily SUN.