The civil work of the south-tube of the "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel' beneath the Karnaphuli River has been completed, connecting Chattogram's Anwara upazila to Patenga of the city.
At a programme held in Chattogram on Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the completion of the civil works of the first tube of the infrastructure.
Joining virtually from her official residence Gonobhaban, the premier said, "Karnaphuli Tunnel was the first such project in South Asia. The tunnel under the river is an astonishing infrastructure of Bangladesh. With completion of the project, the economic progress of the country including Chattogram will be more visible.
"Planned development on the south end of the river will be possible. Chattogram will be "one city twin town" by connecting the southern part of the port city with Anwara upazila on the other bank of the river. There will be an opportunity to expand facilities for Chattogram Port to the river's south bank. Moreover, the tunnel will contribute a lot to the economy of the country through planned urbanisation and industrialisation," she added.
A documentary on the tunnel was screened at the programme. The premier also witnessed a colourful cultural function at the programme venue in Chattogram.
Bridges Division Minister Obaidul Quader, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and Bridges Division Secretary Md Monjur Hossain also spoke at the programme.
Chinese ambassador Li Ziming said China's relationship with Bangladesh is long-standing. Bangladesh is now an inspiration to the world as a developing country. The country has emerged as a role model to the world. Its GDP growth has shown consistency at an enviable level for the past few years. The tunnel will further accelerate the economic progress of Bangladesh.
Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the tunnel built under the river is a unique achievement for Bangladesh. The country's second dream scheme after the Padma Bridge is now almost finished. Some electrical and mechanical work left to do.
After the completion of those works, the tunnel will be opened to traffic early next year, through formal inauguration by the premier, he added.
According to the project officials, the overall progress of the project is 95 % as of 25 November Besides, the works of three cross passages between the two tunnels, approach road, viaduct, carpeting, painting, cable wiring, and construction of service area are in the final stage.
The 9.39km tunnel will connect the Naval avenue point of the port city and CUFL point under Anwara upazila in the district. Of the total length, the main tunnel will be 3.32 kilometres, approach roads on the east and west ends 5.35 kilometres and an over bridge (viaduct) 727 metres.
China Communications Construction Company Limited is implementing the Tk10,374-crore project. Alongside taking loans from donors, Bangladesh government is spending Tk4,461.23 crore.