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The Daily Star: Construction of the tunnel under the Karnaphuli river reached a major milestone with completion of boring on Thursday afternoon.
Seventy-three percent of the physical work for the 3.32km tunnel is now done.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel will significantly reduce congestion on both sides of the river and shorten travel time.
Project officials said they might open the tunnel to traffic much sooner than the original deadline of December 2022.
A tunnel boring machine was used to complete the task in two years and four months.
The project authorities are now constructing 5.35km of approach roads, building the road inside the tunnel, and setting up utility lines.
“The tunnel will connect the southern and northern parts of Chattogram district, opening up economic opportunities for people in the region,” said Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“The Karnaphuli river divides Chattogram into two parts. The tunnel will connect the city and Anwara upazila. The tunnel will also be used as an alternative road to Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf and Matarbari and northern Chattogram,” he added.
Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, project director of the Multilane Road Tunnel under the River Karnaphuli, said, “We have completed the boring on Thursday afternoon. Now we are concentrating on the rest of the work.”
The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is the first underwater tunnel in South Asia.
It is being constructed by China Communication Construction Company Ltd.
According to the monthly progress report of the project, the work on 5.35km of approach road, construction of road inside the tunnel, and installation of utility lines are yet to be completed.
Over 360 acres of land have been acquired for it and the process of acquiring another 20 acres is underway, the report also said.
In November 2015, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the much-hyped multi-lane road tunnel project involving Tk 8,446.64 crore. The cost later rose to Tk 10,374.42 crores.
The Exim Bank of China is giving Tk 5,913.19 crore at an interest rate of 2 percent, while the Bangladesh government is providing the rest.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a rally at Laldighi, Chattogram, spoke of constructing the tunnel before the 2008 national election.
The tunnel will play an important role in improving the Asian Highway Network, strengthening connectivity between Bangladesh and neighbouring countries.