Bangabandhu Tunnel: A dream come true

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Published on October 31, 2023
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Waseqa Ayesha Khan:

An improved communication system is the key to national development. The Awami League Government is working relentlessly under the visionary leadership of Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the development of communication systems across the country for economic progress and industrialization. This continuous development has been possible because the people have repeatedly elected Awami League by voting for “Nouka”- the election symbol of the Awami League. The government is building a seamless communication network by building hundreds of roads and bridges across the country. Apart from dredging and revitalizing the rivers, the government has also modernized the railway services.

The country's first tunnel 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel' built under the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram was inaugurated on October 28 as part of the continuous development activities of our Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The tunnel was opened for traffic on October 29.

On 14 October 2016, the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and the President of China Xi Jinping laid the foundation stone of the 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel' project. This tunnel connects the two banks of the Karnaphuli River to improve the communication system in the southeastern part of the country; connecting it to the Asian highway network on the model ‘one city two town’ of Shanghai, China. It connects Patenga of Chattogram city and Anwara end of the south.  As a result, Dhaka-Chittagong and Cox's Bazar is now connected with modern communication system and the Asian highway.

The development of a communication system is the prerequisite for economic progress. The inauguration of the tunnel has opened new doors for economic development. In the coming days, trade in this region will increase manyfold. Karnaphuli tunnel will not only build the communication network of the southeastern part of the country but through this, economic excellence will be achieved along with the expansion of industries and businesses in Southern Chattogram.

A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has been developed on the south bank of the Karnaphuli River complementing the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel. This will generate employment as a result of investment and industrialization. The fate of millions of people in this region will change for the better. Due to the reduction in travel time and cost, transportation of raw materials and manufactured goods to Chittagong port, airport and especially with the North Western region of Bangladesh will be facilitated. Entrepreneurs will benefit, the speed of trade will increase, import-export processes will be revitalized and foreign direct investment will multiply.

In the Special Economic Zone, the process of setting up many other industries including the shipbuilding industry, electronic products, textile, furniture, building materials etc are underway, which will directly contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the people of this region and beyond.

Bangabandhu Tunnel has created a huge potential for investment from Mirsharai to Cox's Bazar. Through the tunnel, the raw materials and finished products of the entire country including the Mirsharai Economic Zone can be transported to the Matarbari seaport of Cox's Bazar in the fastest possible time, avoiding the city traffic.  According to conservative estimation in the DPP (Development Project Proposal, the financial and economic IRR (Internal Rate of Return) will be 6.19 percent and 12.49 percent respectively; the financial and economic BCR (Benefit Cost Ratio) will be 1.05 and 1.5 respectively. As a result, it will help boost the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth by 0.166 percent annually. That will have a positive impact on the overall economy of Bangladesh.

From Mirsharai of Chattogram to Cox's Bazar and the large area around the Marine Drive along the coast has immense potential to become the country's largest industrial corridor owing to the Bangabandhu Tunnel. There is also the possibility of construction of several jetties on the south bank of the Karnaphuli River, which will increase the capacity of the port.

Along with southern Chattogram, the tunnel will connect the tourist city Cox's Bazar and the hill district Bandarban with other regions of Bangladesh.

Cox's Bazar, Saint Martin and Bandarban are among the major tourist destinations of the country. As the communication system around the Bangabandhu Tunnel becomes easier, it will attract an increased number of domestic and foreign tourists. Hence this tunnel will also play a vital role in the development of the country's tourism industry.

The Bangabandhu Tunnel will undoubtedly play an important role in accelerating communication and economic activities.  "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel" is unquestionably a brilliant addition to the transformative initiatives undertaken by the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the progress of Bangladesh's planned economic prosperity.

Writer: Member of the Parliament, Finance and Planning Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League and Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry