Excavation of the Karnaphuli tunnel will commence in the third week of this month, a development much welcomed by the port city business community for the boost in communication Tk 9,880 crore-project would give upon its completion in 2022.
The tunnel, which will go under the Karnaphuli at the Naval Academy point in Patenga and connect with Anwara on the other side, will enhance the Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar national highway network.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to inaugurate the excavation under the Karnaphuli river on February 24.
In order to start the task, a tunnel boring machine used for excavation has recently been imported from China, said officials related with the Multilane Road Tunnel under River Karnaphuli project.
The economy of Chattogram would almost double once the tunnel is constructed, said AM Mahbub Chowdhury, senior vice-president of the Chittagong Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
A new township will develop on the other side of the Karnaphuli once the construction of the tunnel completes, linking the port city with Anwara upazila.
The total length of the proposed tunnel will be about 9.3 kilometres: 3.4 km under the river, an approach road of 5.25 km and 727 metres of over-bridge.
Industrialisation would take place in the vast area of southern Chattogram, said Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, a former first vice-president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“It will create jobs for thousands of people,” he added.
The tunnel would strengthen the role of Chattogram as the centre of communications system, said Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The cost of the project was estimated at Tk 8,446 crore in 2015 and was later revised to Tk 9,880 crore as the price of the land rose three times, according to Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, the project director. China Communication and Construction Company is constructing the tunnel.
The Chinese government is funding the project and Bangladesh is bearing the cost of land acquisition and utilities.
The construction of the project began on December 5, 2017 and is due to be completed by December 2022. About 32 percent works of the project have so far been completed, the project director said.