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Inauguration of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is Today.

After four years of construction, the inauguration of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is taking place today. This tunnel connects the Patenga area of Chittagong City to the upazila of Anwara, passing under the Karnaphuli River. As a result, it opened up new trade opportunities for the southern regions of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, creating a new gateway to the sea for industries.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate this tunnel on Saturday morning. Starting the next day, this four-lane tunnel will be open for vehicular traffic, and a toll will be imposed for its use. Notably, this is not only the first of its kind in Bangladesh but also in South Asia, as it is the first road tunnel under a river in the region.

The Karnaphuli River has divided the entire country from southern Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. Approximately 91 years ago, the first Kalurghat railway bridge was constructed over this river. In 1989, a road bridge was built in the same location, and in 2010, the Karnaphuli Second Shah Amanat Bridge was added. However, there was no opportunity to construct a new bridge from the Shah Amanat Bridge. This is because building another bridge over the river would lead to the siltation of the port in Chittagong.

So, a 21-kilometer-long tunnel has been constructed under the Karnaphuli River, starting from Shah Amanat Bridge and going to the river’s bank, providing a new transport route to Cox’s Bazar. This tunnel does not only relieve the pressure on Shah Amanat Bridge but also offers opportunities for the planned expansion of the city in Anwara, particularly with the upcoming opening of the deep-sea port terminal in Cox’s Bazar in 2026. This terminal will facilitate the transport of goods from all over the country through the tunnel.

Travelers from Dhaka to southern Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar will now use the tunnel directly, bypassing Chittagong city using the Toll Road and the Outer Ring Road. Similarly, those traveling from southern Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar to Dhaka can use the same route. This will reduce the distance by at least 40 kilometers.

Mahbubul Alam, the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told Prothom Alo that the tunnel will make communication between southern Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar with the rest of the country much easier. It opens up the opportunity to develop new cities and industrial areas in southern Chittagong, creating a new horizon for trade and industry.

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