We are delighted to learn that the construction work of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the river Karnaphuli, the first of its kind in South Asia, has been progressing at such a rapid pace that the authorities are hoping to open it to traffic well ahead of the project’s deadline. Although the original deadline of the project was December 2022, the project authorities expect they will be able to open the tunnel for use much sooner, as 73 percent physical work of the 3.32km tunnel has already been done. According to project officials, boring, the most difficult part of the tunnel’s construction, is already complete and the authorities are now constructing the 5.35km of approach roads, building the road inside the tunnel, and setting up utility lines, which we hope will not take long to get done.
Over the years, delays and cost overruns in our major development projects have become the norm. In the last few months alone, this newspaper published a number of reports on project delays and cost overruns, mostly due to inefficiency and corruption in project implementation. One recent example of this is the Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil highway project, which will take another two and a half years to complete, while its cost will also double, according to a report published in this daily last September.
Under the circumstances, it is really encouraging that the China Communication Construction Company Ltd., which is constructing the tunnel, has not wasted any time after the tunnel’s physical work started in February 2019, while the project cost has also stayed within its limit.
It needs to be mentioned here that once the tunnel becomes operational, it will have an immense effect on the country’s economy. It will connect the southern and northern parts of Chattogram, creating economic opportunities for people in the region. It is also supposed to reduce congestion on both sides of the Karnaphuli and shorten travel time, and play a greater role after the construction of the deep-sea port and economic zone in Cox’s Bazar’s Maheshkhali and Matarbari are complete. Needless to say, the tunnel will improve the Asian Highway Network, strengthening connectivity between Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries.
Since the most difficult part of the project has been completed well ahead of time, we now hope that the remaining work will also be finished in time. And while we express our satisfaction at the pace of the tunnel’s construction work, we also hope that other big infrastructure development projects in the country are worked on with the same sincerity and efficiency and are completed on time.