National, Back Page

Another dream to come true for Bangladesh

PM to open Bangabandhu Tunnel Saturday

Published : 25 Oct 2023 10:34 PM

Bangladesh now stands on the verge of another dream coming true following the opening of the long-cherished dream Padma Bridge constructed on the chest of turbulent and almost uncontrollable mighty Padma River.

The nation is now eagerly waiting to witness a momentous event centering the opening of the country’s first-ever tunnel under the river, which is going to be opened for traffic on Saturday.

The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, running beneath the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram, is now awaiting inauguration with the primary construction phase successfully concluded.

Undoubtedly, this is going to be a watershed moment that will mark a turning point in the national life of Bangladesh. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the much-anticipated multi-lane tunnel which is her gift for the people of Chattogram in her government’s current tenure. The inaugural ceremony will be held in the port city of Chattogram. 

Project Director Harunur Rashid Chowdhury said that the Bangabandhu Tunnel is 100 per cent ready for traffic. Ancillary work that remains incomplete can be accomplished post-inauguration.With the project’s deadline extending to December, there is time to finish the remaining work, he added. 

A theme song titled ‘BanglarMukute Jog HoloAroEkRongeenPolok (Another colorful feather has been added to the crown of Bengal)’ has been recorded about the Bangabandhu Tunnel.

Renowned lyricist Dr. Abdullah Al Mamun composed the theme song which will be aired on BTV from today (October 26). 

Shahriar Khaled has composed the music of the song. He said, “The recording and filming of the song has already been completed. Dr. Abdullah Al Mamun came from Australia to give voice to the song. The song is produced by BTV executive producer IlonSafir.”

Shahriar Khaled, AnupamaMukti, Dr. SharmilaBarua, Sabbir Zaman and Gauri Das have also given voice in the song. 

Local artistes of Chattogram have also made another theme song for the tunnel. The title of the track is ‘NotunAlorDicchheAbha Nadir Tolodesh’. Rhymester and children’s writer AFM Modasser Ali has penned the lyrics while AlauddinTaher has composed the music of the song. 

A total of thirty-one artistes of Chattogram have lent their voice to the song. The shooting of the music video of the song took place at a location adjacent to Bangabandhu Tunnel. Alauddin has directed the music video of it.

After the inauguration of the Bangabandhu Tunnel which is also the first of its kind in South Asia, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend a public rally to be held in Anwara area of Chattogram district. Preparation has been taken to gather one million people for the rally.

The entire port city is now in a festive mood ahead of the inaugural ceremony of the tunnel. The Patenga and Anwara ends of the tunnel are being decorated in preparation for the Prime Minister’s arrival and the inaugural ceremony.

An aesthetic mural of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been installed in front of the Shah Amanat International Airport at the Patenga end of the tunnel, along with a traditional sampan representing Chattogram. 

Shakila Sultana, Deputy Commissioner of Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP), said that adequate security measures have been taken for the inauguration of the tunnel with the assistance of the Army and RAB’s dog squads.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges has issued a notification setting the toll rates for the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel. For private cars and jeeps, the minimum toll is Tk. 200, while trucks and trailers incur higher tolls with an additional Tk. 200 per axle for trailers.

The Bangabandhu Tunnel is situated at a depth ranging from 18 to 31 metres beneath the Karnaphuli River.

According to Bangabandhu Tunnel project details, two tubes, each 35 feet wide and 16 feet high, have been constructed at an 11-meter interval to facilitate the passage of heavy vehicles. The tunnel’s total length is 3.40 km, with a 5.35 km approach road and a 740 m bridge, connecting the core city, the port, and the western side of the river with the eastern side.

The construction work of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping on October 14 in 2016.

China Communications Construction Company Limited is serving as the project’s contractor.

 The project’s cost has now increased to Tk. 10,689.71 crore, and it is being funded jointly by the governments of Bangladesh and China with the Exim Bank of China providing Tk. 5,913 crore at a two percent interest rate, and the remaining funds coming from the Bangladesh government.

Owned and managed by the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, the twin tunnels will play a vital role in connecting the different parts of the country and promoting economic growth.

DrJanardhanSundaram, Executive Director of SMEC in Bangladesh, said that the tunnel is a game-changer for economic development in the region. It will ease traffic congestion and significantly reduce travel times between Dhaka, Chattogram Port and the developing growth area in southeast Bangladesh.

Gavin Strid, Chief Technical Principal and Project Manager, said that the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel enabled the training of over 50 local Bangladeshi engineers. The project’s success has given the government confidence in the slurry shield methodology which is currently being deployed on other mega projects in the country including the Dhaka Metro, he added.