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Bangladesh in the Age of Tunnels

Bangladesh has entered the era of tunnels. On Sunday, October 29, at 6 a.m., the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel beneath the Karnaphuli River was opened for public use.

On Saturday, the historic Bangabandhu Tunnel, the first tunnel in South Asia under a river, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

According to prior announcements, from 6 a.m. on Sunday, the Bangabandhu Tunnel was opened for public use for vehicular traffic. Subsequently, the first vehicle to utilize the tunnel was a private car arriving from Cox’s Bazar, which paid a toll of 250 taka and entered the Patenga area.

Sujon, who arrived from Cox’s Bazar, was driving a goods-carrying vehicle and crossed the tunnel. He mentioned that he paid a 1000 taka toll to cross the tunnel.

Sujon stated that previously, it would take a lot of time to go around Shah Amanat Bridge. Therefore, carrying goods via the tunnel was not possible during the daytime. However, since the introduction of tunnel access, it is now possible to carry goods via the tunnel at any time, saving a lot of time.

From 6 a.m. onwards, even before the official opening, many people brought their vehicles to the Patenga area to witness the historic moment. Some of them have been waiting since midnight.

Before that, on Saturday at 11:43 a.m., Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered prayers for the project’s success after inaugurating the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel.

The Prime Minister initially used the tunnel to cross from the western bank of the Karnaphuli River to Anwara on the southern bank. She was the first passenger to cross the toll booth for the tunnel.

According to project details, the tunnel will directly connect Chittagong Port to the Upazila of Anwara, in addition to linking Cox’s Bazar directly to Chittagong. The tunnel is designed to reduce the distance by 40 kilometers.

The tunnel is 3.40 kilometers long, with two tubes of 35 feet in width and 16 feet in height, providing an easy passage for heavy vehicular traffic. Vehicles can pass through the tunnel at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour.

The projected cost of the Bangabandhu Tunnel is 10,374 crores taka. The China Exim Bank provided a loan at a 2% interest rate of 5,913 crores taka and the Bangladesh government funds the remaining portion. The China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC) is responsible for the project as the contractor.

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