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Bangladesh: Marvel of Bangabandhu Tunnel at Chattogram

Despite tales of tunnels that stretch for miles, the tour will extend much farther than the shadowy basement beneath its starting point.

6 mins read
The Bangabandhu Tunnel at Chattogram [ File Photo]

The tunnel is a traffic masterpiece. Get ready for a new level of comfort, agility and speed. The journey beyond the world we have known. The first ever tunnel that allows us to be part of the landscape. Enter the tunnel and experience a new world of travel. To see the world, to conquer the world. Our daily commute is about to get a whole lot safer.

Discovering the Aesthetics of Bangabandhu Tunnel is affected by emotion as if by electricity; thrilling! Above there is heaven, below there are West Patiya and Anwara on the Karnaphuli’s south and east banks will become two-towns.

The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel (or Karnaphuli Tunnel is an underwater expressway tunnel in the port city of Chattogram, Bangladesh under the Karnaphuli river. The length of the entire route is 9.39 kilometres (5.83 mi), with the tunnel making up 3.32 kilometres (2.06 mi) of the length. The tunnel diameter will be 10.80 metres (35.4 ft).

The Karnaphuli River flows with a tidal wave. The river merges with the Bay of Bengal in the streams coming down from the Lusai Hills. Bangabandhu Tunnel, i.e., the tunnel path built with dreams, has been built under this river in Chottogram. It is a challenging mega project of the present government. First for the country. First in South Asia. The tunnel, which connects the north and south ends of the Karnaphuli River, is witnessing massive progress in the country’s economic activities.

This tunnel will turn Chottogram into one city to two towns. This will create a new future for the region. With this, another dream door of the country is opening with many welfare schemes under the able and dynamic present government leading by PM Sheikh Hasina.

In the beginning, it was an amazing dream. That dream has come true in the progress of continuous work. 100 percent work of this tunnel named ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel’ has already been completed. Preparations for the opening ceremony are now underway. The opening date of the tunnel has been fixed for October 28, 2023. It can have guests from home and abroad, as it is learnt.

Bangladesh Bridge Division (BBA) is now busy preparing various outlines of the inauguration phase. The south end of the tunnel, the Anwara end, has been identified for the opening ceremony. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader has already said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will appear in person on that day and announce the inauguration of the tunnel. The prime minister is also scheduled to hold a public meeting at Anwara on the same day.

Bangabandhu Tunnel is a matter of pride for the country. All technical civil and electronics work was completed in July. In the meantime, the project’s precommissioning, commissioning and trial run work has also been successfully completed.

China Communications and Constructions Company Limited (CCCCL) has stood for the maintenance and operational work of the bridge division project. It may be mentioned that CCCCL is the contractor for the construction of this tunnel. For the next five years, CCCCL will be responsible for the tunnel operation, i.e., toll collection, maintenance work, et al.

Flyovers, approach roads and vestment points and toll plazas have been established at both ends of the tunnel, i.e., Patenga in Chattogram city on the north and Anwara Upazila in the south. The tunnel is now ready to be opened to traffic.

‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel’ has been built with a far-reaching plan to turn Chittogram into one city to two towns like Shanghai city of China. Once the myth has now mingled with the truth. The Padma Bridge, Metro Rail, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Matarbari Deep Sea Port are also mega projects of the government in the country.

According to the project statistics, 7.6 milion vehicles will be operated in the three years after the inauguration. Container-laden trailers, trucks, covered vans, buses, minibuses, microbuses, private cars, jeeps and small-sized vehicles will run.

Initially, an average of 17,000 vehicles were estimated to be plying annually. The project is expected to handle 28,000 vehicles per day by 2028 and 38,000 vehicles by 2030. Vehicles going to Cox’s Bazar from different parts of the country will pass through the Dhaka-Chattogram highway through the tunnel to the Anwara end. There, the PIB road will be on the Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Road and the Arakan Road.

Bangabandhu Tunnel has been considered as a significant new aspect for the prosperity of the country.  After the establishment of the tunnel, the trade city of Chittagong will be further expanded. There will be prosperity in business and industry. The foundation of the economy will be stronger. Apart from this, Anwara Upazila located at the northern end will become a suburb. Multinational Karnaphuli Fertilizer Company (KAFCO), Chattogram Urea Fertilizer Limited (CUFL), Korean EPZ (KPZ), Marine Academy and other establishments are already located in Anwara UZ. 

In addition, the China Economic Zone is being established in the depths of the country. If this zone is established, there will be 171 industries. More than 100,000 jobs will be created. With the construction of the tunnel, the distance between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar will be reduced by more than 15 kilometers.

The Picture of The Hole of South Chattogram, Including Anwara-Karnaphuli, has been changed around Bangabandhu Tunnel. The Government’s Mega Projects are changing the Landscape of Anwara Upazilla’s Economy with the Help of Development Changes. The Communication System in the Area is changing. Due to geographical reasons, Anwara UZ will be the best medium of international communication due to the construction of Bangabandhu Tunnel on the one hand next to the sea port on the other. As a result, economic and commercial activities will be increasing massively in Anwara Upazila.

Industry and business groups are competing to buy land in the area. In just two years, land prices have increased more than 10 times. Due to the increase in business activities, the rush to open branches of commercial banks has also started. The investment of thousands of crores of Takas is expected.

The road from Kalabibi Dighi to Chatri Chaumuhani, it is seen that the picture of this area has changed in the last two years.  At least 20 commercial and residential multistoried buildings have been constructed in the Dighi area of Kalabibi in the last two years, where there was not even a two-storey building two years ago. At least 10 commercial buildings are under construction.

Clinics, educational institutions, commercial complexes, high-quality restaurants, community centers have been established. HS Composite Textile, a huge garment factory, has come up on an acre of land near approach road. It is expected that 3,000 to 5,000 people will be employed in this garment factory. 

According to sources, after Bangabandhu Tunnel, various leading industrial groups of the country have purchased land to set up factories in Karnaphuli and Anwara upazilas. Meanwhile, commercial banks have also joined the traders. Commercial banks are turning to the possibility of expatriate remittance and industrial investment, import-export trade. 

There are about 20 commercial bank branches in Anwara. Within a month, three more bank branches have been added. Anwara Upazila Parishad Chairman Touhidul Haque Chowdhury said Anwara model is becoming a suburb due to the construction of the tunnel. Land prices rose overnight. The area has now become gold with the touch of the tunnel. 

Business leaders said that once the tunnel is opened, Anwara-Karnaphuli in South Chattogram will be the dream door of a new Bangladesh. This is the roadmap to take Bangladesh forward in international trade. Therefore, extensive commercial activities are going on in the area around the tunnel, including setting up new industries and opening new branches of commercial banks. Through this, not only Chittagong or Bangladesh will benefit, but the Asian road network and eastbound trade will be expanded.

The road from Shikalbaha crossing in Karnaphuli to Kalabibi Dighir crossing has been upgraded to four lanes. As a result, it is possible to reach Chattogram city within 10-15 minutes from Anwara Upazila. It used to take an hour to get to where it used to be. With this, relief is working among the passengers of Anwara, Chandanaish, Banshkhali in South Chattogram and Pekua, Maheshkhali, Chakaria and Kutubdia of Cox’s Bazar district.

Anwara Upazila of Chattogram is the gateway to South Chatogram. On the one hand, this Upazila is becoming a commercial Upazila by setting up various commercial establishments including KPZ, CUFL, DAPFCL, KAFCO, Saad Musa Industrial Park, China Economic Zone, et al. On the other hand, it is becoming known as a tourist area due to various ancient artifacts including the country’s second largest Parki Beach, Mohsen Aulia Shrine, Parabon, Gahira Fishing, etc.

As a result, Anwara will become a one-city to two towns on the lines of China’s Sinhala city. So, it is clear that Anwara is not far behind in terms of engagement and importance. And the main component of a better lifestyle is improved transportation.

Despite tales of tunnels that stretch for miles, the tour will extend much farther than the shadowy basement beneath its starting point. Short brick-lined passageways come to an abrupt stop where we can see long stretches of cobwebbed paths extending into the darkness beneath the city.

True or not, touring the tunnels always makes for a great story. And no matter what you conclude, you can quench your thirst post-tour or grab a slice, where you might take a seat next to resident, but that’s another story. It’s time to take the first step down a new path. We are fitter, faster and stronger than ever before. Our commuters asked for a tunnel, so we built one. Thus, we have built the future of transportation at Chattogram.

Anwar A. Khan

Anwar A. Khan is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs

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