Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the landmark Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel on Saturday, opening the nation’s first underwater expressway passage under the Karnaphuli River.
The nearly 10km tunnel constructed below the Karnaphuli River between Patenga and Anwara will connect highways and boost connectivity.
Karnaphuli River Tunnel Opened on October 28, 2023
On Saturday, October 28, PM Hasina officially inaugurated the Bangabandhu Tunnel, a mega project directly connecting Patenga and Anwara via an expressway under the river.
The tunnel, which includes approach roads on both sides, stretches around 10km in length. Construction occurred at a cost of Taka 10,374 crore, with China financing nearly half.
Will Reduce Distance and Ease Congestion
A key benefit of the underwater route is reducing the distance between key locations by around 40km. This is expected to ease severe congestion on existing bridges.
The tunnel connects the Asian Highway to the vital Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Highway through a shortcut beneath the river.
Opens to Traffic Starting October 31
The tunnel will open for public use on October 31. Over 17,000 vehicles are projected to utilize the tunnel daily.
This equates to facilitating the passage of approximately 7.6 million vehicles annually. Traffic will significantly improve in the region.
Economic Impact Projected to be Substantial
Experts forecast the tunnel will substantially aid economic growth and activity in Chittagong and nationally.
The minister stated it could increase Bangladesh’s annual GDP growth by 0.166%. Improved connectivity and transport is expected to catalyze industry.
Connects Export Processing Zones and Industrial Areas
The tunnel links export processing zones in Anwara and Halishahar. It also connects the Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone in Anwara.
Boosting connectivity between these key economic centers will greatly benefit trade and manufacturing productivity.
Tourism Industry Also Stands to Gain
Besides manufacturing, the tunnel also provides a shorter route between Chittagong’s airport, seaport and hotel areas.
This enhanced connectivity will likely facilitate greater tourism in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, supporting that vital sector.
Compares to Major Transport Projects
Observers have compared the tunnel’s economic impact to that of the landmark Padma Bridge. Both are transformational infrastructure achievements.
Some have suggested combining the tunnel with a expressway and industrial zone to create a “smart city” along the Karnaphuli River.
Largest Infrastructure Project Built with Chinese Support
China played a major role supporting construction of the 10km underwater expressway, which utilized advanced engineering.
The project demonstrates growing Chinese infrastructure investment in Bangladesh as bilateral relations strengthen.
Tunnel Expected to Elevate Bangladesh’s Profile
For Bangladesh, the tunnel represents a new emblem of national pride and evidence of its rapid development.
Officials have highlighted the landmark facility will raise Bangladesh’s international profile as a modernizing country pioneering world-class infrastructure.
PM Hasina to Inaugurate Tunnel in Ceremony
On Saturday morning, PM Hasina inaugurated the tunnel in a ceremony starting at 11AM local time.
She will unveil commemorative plaques and stamps marking the momentous occasion for Bangladesh. A huge rally will also take place nearby.
In summary, the inauguration of Bangladesh’s first underwater expressway tunnel signals a major connectivity achievement. The Karnaphuli River tunnel aims to boost transport, trade and growth.