Karnaphuli tunnel to speed up trade with neighbouring countries

12 October 2021

Construction of Bangladesh's first ever tunnel under River Karnaphuli is going on in full swing. Two major hurdles on its way, the corona pandemic and land acquisition, have been overcome. If the construction work progresses at the present pace, it will be completed within the scheduled time, that is December 2022, concerned authorities said. The 9.3 kilomtres long tunnel of 10.8 diameters (main tunnel 3.32km), named after Bangabandhi Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the first underwater tunnel in South Asia and also the first large-diameter tunnel. There will be 5.35 kilometres of link roads connecting the main tunnel from its western and eastern ends.
The estimated cost of this project is Tk 10,374 crore. Of the amount, the Bangladesh government is providing Tk 4,461.23 crore while the Exim Bank of China is giving the remaining Tk 5,913.19 crore as project assistance. Undertaken by a Chinese company, it is an important part of China's 'One Belt and One Road Initiative'. Business leaders and experts hope that the tunnel would connect the southern and northern parts of Chattogram district, opening up economic opportunities for people from neighbouring countries. The Karnaphuli River divides Chattogram into two parts, but the tunnel will connect the city and Anwara Upazila. It will also be used as an alternative road to Cox's Bazar, Teknaf and Matarbari and northern Chottagram.
Meanwhile, based on the progress of work of the tunnel, the construction work of an economic zone, a deep-sea port and a power plant are going on in the area between the southern bank of Karnaphuli and Cox's Bazar. Everyone is waiting to enjoy the multiple advantages of the tunnel. The tunnel will also boost tourism in Chattogram and Cox's Bazar. Once the tunnel is open to vehicular movement, Chattogram-bound vehicles would not need to go through the main city. People would be able to reach their destinations quickly through the tunnel via Chattogram's outer ring road. Subsequently, it will decrease the pressure of vehicles in Chattogram city. A number of industrial areas, including the China EPZ, have sprung up at Anwara due to the construction of the tunnel which is expected to improve the Asian Highway Network and China's Belt and Road Initiative strengthening Bangladesh's connectivity to the region.

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