Bangladesh is going ahead smoothly on its ambitious $1.2 bn underwater tunnel project at Chattogram amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The tunnel aimed at boosting connectivity has completed the left line of the section, officials said on Monday.

The four-lane tunnel – the first of its kind in Bangladesh – on Karnaphuli river, would have a total length of around 9.092 km, including 3.50 km under the river with an approach road of 4.89 km alongside the 740 metre bridge linking Chattogram city and the western side of Karnaphuli.

The tunnel is expected to contribute to the improvement of the Asian Highway Network, and provide an impetus to the connectivity between Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries.

Featuring a two-tube, four-lane route in the shield section, the tunnel, once operational, is expected to vastly improve the traffic condition in Chattogram, and also promote the economic development of Bangladesh, a release said on Monday.

For the project, a tunnel boring machine acquired from China has been deployed at the construction site.

The project will improve connectivity to other parts of Bangladesh through the Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar national highway network, officials said.

The project in Chattogram port city is being done by the China Communications Construction Company Ltd.

The tunnel is being built to turn Chattogram into ‘One City Two Towns’. It is expected to boost economic activities, trade and commerce and support garments manufacturers in the region.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping had jointly laid the foundation stone of the project on October 14, 2017.

In February last year, Hasina inaugurated the work on the 3.5-km Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first in the country, in Karnaphuli river, at Patenga.

The tunnel would reduce the road distance between Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar, apart from easing the traffic on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway and enabling vehicles entering the port city to go to other parts of the Chattogram division.

The multi-lane tunnel will connect Chattogram Port and Anowara Upazila and is expected to ease the communication between Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar in addition to reducing traffic congestion on two bridges over the Karnaphuli river.

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