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Congestion worries over opening of Karnaphuli tunnel with link roads not ready

06 September 2022, 12:15

Last modification: September 06, 2022, 12:13 p.m.

The Karnaphuli tunnel, which will be partially opened in October, could trigger serious traffic jams in Chattogram as the connecting roads at both ends of the undersea highway are not ready yet. The photo was taken from the Anwara end of the tunnel recently. Photo: TBS

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The Karnaphuli tunnel, which will be partially opened in October, could trigger serious traffic jams in Chattogram as the connecting roads at both ends of the undersea highway are not ready yet. The photo was taken from the Anwara end of the tunnel recently. Photo: TBS

The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tunnel, or Karnaphuli tunnel, will be opened partially in October, as traffic police said that opening the underwater highway without the link roads at both ends being ready will cause serious traffic congestion in Chattogram.

Echoing the concerns of traffic police, public transport and communications experts expressed surprise as the construction of these roads was supposed to have been completed before the tunnel opened.

In the latest development, the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) plans to construct a number of flyovers and U-loops for smoother traffic flow through the tunnel. But the Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) Traffic Division is still skeptical as the division does not know when the CDA projects will be completed.

According to the authorities, the Karnaphuli tunnel has registered more than 88% progress so far. The opening of the two tunnel tubes is scheduled for December this year.

It is estimated that at least 63 lakh vehicles will move on the underwater highway in the first year after inauguration.

The Bangabandhu Tunnel, the first ever underwater highway in Bangladesh under the Karnaphuli River, aims at better connectivity between the northern and southern parts of Chattogram. Chattogram Seaport and other infrastructure related to Patenga Port are located in the northern part of the tunnel, while the southern part falls under Anwara Upazila which is dotted with industries.

The tunnel is expected to facilitate the transport of goods between the port and the factories, reduce travel time between Dhaka and the southeastern beach town of Cox’s Bazar and ease traffic pressure on the port city by channeling vehicle traffic to through the Chattogram outer ring road.

Photo: TBS

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Photo: TBS

Photo: TBS

For smoother traffic, the tunnel feasibility study mentions a four-lane road from Patenga to Faujdarhat point of Dhaka-Chattogram highway, widening of PB road at Anwara point to six lanes, widening of the four-lane Anwara-Banshkhali road, development of the Anwara-Pekua road and three feeder roads linking the Chattogram outer ring road to the port city.

But all these road links have yet to be completed, raising the specter of traffic jams at key points of the transport network crossing the tunnel.

“Until June, 88.5% of our project was completed. We are trying to complete the remaining 11.5% by December this year. However, we have time until June next year “, said Harunur Rashid, Bangabandhu Tunnel Project Manager. Business Standard on August 21.

Congestion fears weigh on Patenga’s point

Tarek Ahmed, Deputy Commissioner of Chattogram Metropolitan Police Traffic (Port) Division, told TBS that the Patenga point of the tunnel has at least five major converging roads – Chattogram Outer Ring Road, Katgar Road, Elevated Highway, Airport Road, Patenga Beach Road and the northern tunnel entrance.

“The traffic situation at the entrance to the northern end of the tunnel will be terrible. Also, Patenga beach is less than half a kilometer from this junction. We don’t know if the authorities have a plan to handle the pressure,” he commented.

Photo: TBS

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Photo: TBS

Photo: TBS

He said the CDA is now talking about rollovers and U-loops, but it’s skeptical when those will be implemented.

However, CDA Chief Engineer Kazi Hasan Bin Shams asserted that flyovers and U-loops will be able to cope with traffic pressure at the Patenga intersection for at least the next five years. .

Delwar Majumder, former president of the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh (IEB), Chattogram center, said: “Those who will use the tunnel will do so mainly to reach their destination quickly. If they have to wait for hours at the tunnel entrance , they risk losing interest in the underwater highway.”

The Chattogram Outer Ring Road, located near the bay, connects the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway to the Bangabandhu Tunnel. But a six kilometer stretch, from Sagarika Point to Faujdarhat, of the 18.5 km ring road has only two lanes.

Also, the outer road has not yet completed its three feeder roads connecting the town of Chattogram.

The traffic division says there could be long traffic jams at Sagarika point on the ring road due to poor management.