CHITTAGONG, Nov 3: The construction work of the tunnel under the river Karnaphuli is likely to begin at the end of November.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Chinese premier are likely to visit the proposed construction site at the end of this month and inaugurate the construction work of the 3.5 kilometre tunnel, to be built at a cost of US$ 100 crore.
Talking to the daily Observer, Abdus Salam Chairman of the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) said that the date for the foundation laying ceremony will be announced very soon.
Meanwhile, a commercial agreement was signed recently in the Chinese capital Beijing for the construction of the tunnel under the River Karnaphuli.
Bridges Division Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam and Chairman of the China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCCL) Liu Qitao inked the deal in Beijing on June 30 in 2015. The tunnel, the first of its kind in the country, will open a new vista in connecting a country which is situated in the world's largest delta.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the tunnel was signed with China when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Beijing on June 9 in 2014 and Communication Secretary Khandakar Anwarul Islam and Chinese Vice Minister of Ministry of Transport and Communication Chi-Kuo Mao inked the MoU in Beijing on December 22 in 2014.
According to CDA sources, the length of the 4-lane tunnel will be 3.5 km while the approach road on both sides of the river will be around 6 km. The cost of the tunnel has been estimated at Tk 70 billion. It will be built on a 'Government-to-Government' basis, hoping the project will be completed by 2018.
The tunnel will connect the proposed Asian Highway and to Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Highway. The port city will be immensely benefitted by the construction of the tunnel.
Chinese company China Communication Construction Company Ltd (CCCCL) and Hong Kong-based 'Arup' have prepared the tunnel's alignment after a feasibility study costing around Tk 140 million. A twin-city will be developed on both the banks of the river Karanaphuli in addition to establishment of new industrial zone on completion of the tunnel.
A 26-member team of Chinese government headed by Deputy Director Prof Sun Xuegong of Economic Research Institute of Development and Reform Commission of China visited the site at the estuary of the river Karnaphuli recently.
The tunnel will be constructed with the financial and technical assistance of China. The Bridges Division of the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry will supervise the project.
As per the MOU, the Chinese government will construct the tunnel at an estimated cost of $ 1 billion.