'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel' at the bottom of the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram will be opened for traffic by the end of the current year (2022), project insiders expect, as around 90 per cent of the mega project has been completed.
The tunnel built at a cost of Tk 103.84 billion (Tk10,384 crore) will be the first road tunnel in Bangladesh and the first underground river tunnel in South Asia.
Project Director Harunur Rashid hopes that the construction work of the Bangabandhu Tunnel Project will be completed ahead of the schedule.
He said, "Around 90 per cent work of the total project has been completed so far. The civil work of the tunnel will be completed very soon. We are trying to complete the total work by December next."
"Meanwhile, two tubes are being constructed within an 11-metre gap so that heavy vehicles can pass through the tunnel easily. We have completed the excavation work. Now roads were being constructed at the tubes,' he said.
He added after completion of the work, other matters including driving through the tunnel will be checked and then it will be opened for traffic.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam visited the Bangabandhu Tunnel Project site on July 29 last and observed progress of the construction work.
He held meetings with the officials concerned regarding progress of the construction work of the tunnel and preparation for its inauguration.
According to the project sources, the total length of the tunnel will be around 9.092 kilometres including 3.40 kilometres under the Karnaphuli River with an approach road of 4.89 kilometers alongside 740 meters' bridges linking the main port city and western side of the Karnaphuli along with the industrial hub on eastern side of the river.
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.
The tunnel will connect Chittagong port and Anwara Upazila and is expected to make communication between Chattogram and Cox's Bazar easier.
It will also ease traffic congestion on two bridges over the Karnaphuli River.
It may be mentioned that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the excavation under the Karnaphuli on February 24 in 2019.
Deputy Minister of Education Barrister Muhibul Hasan Chowdhury proposed to name the first ever tunnel in the country Bangabandhu Tunnel in a cabinet meeting and the cabinet as well as the premier agreed upon the proposal.