Test run likely end of this month
CHATTOGRAM, Sept 18: The test commissioning of the first-ever Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River is expected to be held at the end of this month.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to open it on October 28. Project Director (PD) Md Harunur Rashid Chowdhury told the Daily Observer that the tunnel is fully ready for vehicular movement.
"The test run of the tunnel is hoped to be held at the last week of the current month," Harunur Rashid said.
"With the inauguration by the Prime Minister on October 28, movement of vehicles in the tunnel will begin from the following day,' PD said. The government has already fixed the toll rates for the tunnel. The bridges division issued a notification finalizing the toll rate according to the class of vehicles on July 13 last.
According to the notification, a total of 12 types of vehicles will have to pay toll at Bangabandhu Tunnel. The toll rate will come into effect from the day the tunnel is opened for vehicular movement. According to the notification, the minimum toll in the 3.43-km-long Bangabandhu Tunnel is Tk 200. This toll has been fixed for private cars and pick-up trucks.
The toll for microbuses is Tk 250. The toll for buses less than 31 seats is Tk 300 while buses with more than 32 seats will have to pay Tk 400. The toll for big buses with 3XL has been fixed at Tk 500. The toll for trucks capable of carrying goods up to five tonnes has been fixed at Tk 400. Eight-ton trucks will have to pay Tk 500 and Tk 600 toll has been fixed for 11-ton trucks.
The 3XL trailer will have to pay Tk 800 in toll to cross the tunnel. Meanwhile, a 4XL trailer will pay Tk 1,000. An additional Tk 200 toll will be added for more XL.
Meanwhile, motorcycles won't be allowed to ply through the tunnel, the notification further reads.
Based on the feasibility study conducted for the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, it is projected that once the tunnel becomes operational, an average of 28,305 vehicles will traverse through it on a daily basis by the year 2025.
Furthermore, the study estimates that by 2030, the number of vehicles is expected to increase to 37,946, and by 2067, the target has been set at an average of 162,000 vehicles per day. According to project details, the tunnel will actually turn Chattogram into "one city with two towns". It has been constructed at the estuary of the Karnaphuli River. The multilane tunnel will directly connect the Chattogram Port with Anwara upazila, which will directly connect Cox's Bazar with Chattogram.
The two tubes have been constructed within an 11-metre gap so that heavy vehicles can pass through the tunnel easily. The length of the tunnel is 3.40 kilometres with an approach road of 5.35 kilometres alongside a 740-metre bridge linking the main city, port and the western side of the river with its eastern side. As part of the project, bridges, totalling 740 metres in length have been built, linking the main port city and western side of Karnaphuli River with the heavily industrializing eastern side of the river and Anwara upazila.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the boring work of the first tunnel tube on February 24, 2019. Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly laid the foundation stone of the Bangabandhu Tunnel on October 14, 2016. China Communications Construction Company Ltd is working as the contractor of the project.
The tunnel will connect the proposed Asian Highway with Dhaka-Chattogram- Cox'sBazar Highway along with reducing the distance by 40 km. Vehicles in this tunnel will run at a speed of 80 km per hour.
The China Communications and Construction Company Limited (CCCCL) is the contractor working under the bridge authority, and the total cost of the tunnel construction amounts to Tk 10689 crore. Additionally, a 5.35 km long connecting road between Patenga and Anwara upazilas has been completed.
Vehicles coming from all over the country including Dhaka to Cox's Bazar, Bandarban and South Chattogram will enter the tunnel through Patenga via Chattogram Toll Road and Chattogram City Outer Ring Road. These vehicles will first reach the Anwara's Chatri Chaumuhani through the connecting road.
Then the vehicles will head to Shikalbaha Y Junction of Karnaphuli Upazila of Chattogram-Cox's Bazar highway via PAB road.
Although the works of the tunnel connecting road is completed, the vehicles coming from Chatri Choumuhani junction of PAB road will join the Chittagong-Cox's Bazar highway at Shikalbaha Y junction.