March 1, 2024, 8:56 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-10-28 11:09:37 BdST

PM to open much-awaited Bangabandhu tunnel today

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is all set to inaugurate the long-cherished Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel constructed beneath the Karnaphuli River on Saturday.

She will unveil a plaque on the west bank of river Karnaphuli at Patenga and after crossing the tunnel, she will unwrap another plaque at the south bank of the river at Anwara around 11 am.

The nearly 10km-long tunnel, including approach road, constructed beneath river Karnaphuli between Patenga and Anwara upazila which was built at a cost of Tk 10,374 crore will be opened to vehicles from 6 am on Monday.

It would connect the proposed Asian Highway with Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar Highway by reducing distance by 40km.

She will also open and lay foundation stones of some projects in Chattogram on the occasion.

The premier will also release a special commemorative postage stamp, opening day envelope and a special seal marking the inauguration of the first ever underwater road tunnel.

Sheikh Hasina, also Awami League president, will address a public rally on Korean EPZ (KEPZ) ground at Anwara tomorrow as a huge number of people including leaders and workers of the ruling Awami League and associate bodies are expected to attend it.

AL's Chattogram south district unit is organizing the rally as a festive atmosphere is prevailing all over the district for the gala occasion.

"All preparations are at the final stage as Chattogram as well as the entire country is eagerly waiting for the grand inauguration of the much-awaited Bangabandhu tunnel," Chattogram South District AL president Motaherul Islam Chowdhury said.

He said a large boat shaped stage are being erected in the venue as Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader will also be on the dais with Mothaherul Islam Chowdhury in the chair.

Chowdhury said all-out preparations have been taken to facilitate participants of the rally as sanitations and sufficient water supply will be ensured at the venue and separate arrangements for smooth participation of the females as well.

"Our public rally will be turned into a vast human sea with the participation of nearly a million of people," he expected.

He said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is a matter of pride not only for Chattogram but for the entire nation.

Its 'dream comes true' for millions especially for the residents of commercial capital and port city as the much-anticipated multilane underwater expressway tunnel, first of its kind in South Asia, constructed beneath the river Karnaphuli, a major watercourse of this region, will be inaugurated tomorrow.

In a press briefing on Thursday in Dhaka, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said 17,260 vehicles would be able to use the tunnel on a daily basis equating to some 7.6 million vehicles a year.

The tunnel would help increase the country's annual GDP growth by 0.166pc, he added.

"The tunnel will also cut the distance among Chattogram city, the seaport and the airport as it will play a crucial role in making the economy more vibrant," Quader said.

Md. Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, director of the mega project, said the tunnel is expected to elevate Bangladesh into a new level of prominence in the world, as it is also the region's first ever under river road tunnel.

It will turn Chattogram into "one city with two towns" like Chinese city of Shanghai as it will expand the periphery of the city with boosting economy and opening new doors of immense potentials for industrialization, tourism and expansion of trade and commerce and developing road connectivity in the entire region.

As per the project details, the length of the entire route is 9.39 kilometers (5.83 mi), with the tunnel making up 3.32 kilometers (2.06 mi) of the length while it's diameter is 10.80 meters (35.4 ft).

It has been built at a cost of Tk 10,374 crore and of which around half is financed by the Exim Bank of China.

It will improve the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar highway network. A Chinese company, China Communications Construction Company, constructed it.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the construction site of the Karnaphuli Tunnel on October 14, 2017.

On February 24, 2019, Sheikh Hasina also inaugurated the tunnel boring phase.

The multilane tunnel route passes through the river close to Navy College on one side and Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company (KAFCO) on the other.

It will also ease traffic congestion on two bridges over the Karnaphuli River.

Chattogram deputy commissioner Abul Bashar Mohammad Fakruzzaman said the tunnel will expedite the county's economy and regional trade and commerce by turning Chattogram into one city with two towns.

A three-layer security measures will be ensured at the venue for the inauguration of the tunnel, he said.

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