Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Saturday virtually inaugurated the boring of the second and last tube of the under-construction Bangabandhu Tunnel at the bottom of the River Karnaphuli in Chattogram.
Engineer Harunur Rashid, director of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel Project, made the disclosure to The Business Standard, adding that the second tube is being bored from the Anwara end, and it will be located 12 metres away from the first tube in Chattogram end.
Sixty percent of the 3.4-km tunnel has already been completed. The construction of the first tube with a diameter of 12 metres from Patenga has also been finished. Besides, construction of the 550-metre-approach road at the Anwara end of the tunnel and around 4,798-metre approach road at the Patenga end is progressing in parallel.
Project officials said once the work on the second tube is completed, vehicles will be able to travel at a speed of 80 kilometres per hour through this 4-lane tunnel.
Although construction was slow due to the Covid-19 epidemic, progress on tunnel construction was 5% from March to the first week of September. At present, the construction is going on at a normal pace, they added.
According to the project officials, the Dhaka-Chattogram highway will be connected to Chatri Chaumuhani Point on the Patia-Anwara-Banshkhali road, through the City Outer Ring Road, the Patenga end of the Karnaphuli and the tunnel.
Moreover, with the construction of this tunnel, the distance from Chattogram to Cox's Bazar will be reduced by 34km. The tunnel will also help further develop modern tourism in the region.
It should to be noted that the tunnel will connect the south bank of Karnaphuli – Anwara and Karnaphuli upazila – with the port city. A city consisting of two towns will be built in the style of Shanghai, China. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the excavation of the tunnel on 24 February, 2018.
The tunnel is being constructed by digging the bottom of the river using a three-storey-high capsule-sized device called "Tunnel Boring Machine" (TBM). The tunnel is being constructed at a depth of 18-43 metres under the river.
For this reason, there will be no obstruction in the flow of water of the Karnaphuli. More than one-third of the 3.4-km-tunnel – 2.5 km – is under the river.
On October 14 2017, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping laid the foundation stone of the tunnel at a ceremony in Dhaka.
The tunnel is being constructed on a Government-Government basis with China at a cost of around Tk10,400 crore. China assisted the project with Tk6,000 crore as loan and the government of Bangladesh bore the rest of the cost.
The project is being implemented by Chinese firm Communication and Construction Company Ltd.