Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh entered a new level of development with the beginning of constructing a tunnel beneath the Karnaphuli river, which will significantly contribute to the region's socio-economic progress upon its completion.
“The construction of this tunnel will be completed by 2022 ... after which the socio-economic development of the region will accelerate significantly, which will contribute a lot to the country's economy,” she said while addressing a civic rally at Patenga Ring Road after inaugurating the boring of 3.4km Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel and the construction of 16.5km elevated expressway from Lalkhan Bazar to Shah Amanat Airport in the city.
She said the link road of the country's first tunnel would be connected to the Cox's Bazar-Patiya four-lane road.
“For that, we'll have to construct 10 kilometres additional road; we have that plan. I've already held discussions with the secretary in this regard. The tunnel will go from Chattogram to Anwara and the road will be connected with the Patiya four-lane from Anwara. This will shorten the journey towards Cox's Bazar.”
Talking about the elevated expressway, which is the first in Chattogram, the PM said that after its construction, the people of the port city would be able to reach the airport quickly and easily.
The government wants to work for the country and its development and this is the present government's motto, Hasina said.
Terming Chattogram the hub of all commercial activities, Hasina said the government was doing whatever was needed for the development of this region.
She said the government has planned to construct a marine drive from Chattogram to Cox's Bazar. “This will be constructed from Mirsarai to Cox's Bazar and will be very beneficial.”
Hasina further said the tunnel would not only ease communication but also boost trade and businesses along with industrialisation of this area.
About the government's plan for the balanced development of the country, she mentioned that the government was making efforts to develop the country from the grassroots level. “People living in rural areas will get facilities like the urban areas."
The PM also recalled the name of former Chattogram City mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury behind the construction of the tunnel, saying that he had waged a movement to construct it.
On the Padma Bridge, she said the World Bank, without having any concrete evidence, attached stigma on the government, her and her family members.
“I threw a challenge to the World Bank to prove their allegations, but they failed to give any substantial documents," she said.
Hasina added that there were editors and owners of two renowned newspapers and a man of Chattogram who won the Nobel Prize who carried out propaganda simultaneously in the (US) State Department, reports the BSS.
She said the Nobel laureate used to maintain contact with his friend Hillary Clinton through emails on this issue and eventually the World Bank stopped funding in the Padma Bridge project.
“Then we started constructing the bridge with our own financing as a challenge,” she said.
Hasina added that a case was later filed with the Canadian Federal Court, “but the World Bank could not prove anything”.
“I don't want the Padma Bridge to be named after me, I don't need my name on any structure, I just want to work for the people of the country …," she said.
Referring to her government's initiative of establishing economic zones in the country, Hasina said a special economic zone was also being set up in Chattogram, and the aim was to attract more foreign investments to industrialise the nation.
The tunnel is being built at the cost of Tk 9,880.40 crore to turn Chattogram into “One City, Two Towns”. Of the project cost, Tk 3,967.21 crore will come from the government and the rest from the Chinese government.
China Communication and Construction Company has been constructing the 9.3km tunnel, about 3.4km of which would be under the river, said officials.
Centering this tunnel, a modern communication system will be developed connecting Dhaka-Chattogram-Cox's Bazar, which will eventually be connected to the Asian Highway network.
Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly laid its foundation stone on October 14, 2017.
The expressway's construction cost is estimated to be Tk 3,250 crore.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Bridges Division Senior Secretary Khandker Anwrul Islam and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo also spoke on the occasion.