Industry Desk: The first road and tunnel under the river in South Asia ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel’. Businessmen see the construction of this road as a very timely initiative to connect the communication system on both sides of Karnaphuli river. They think that if all the strategic issues are confirmed now, this tunnel can be a suitable infrastructure to make Chittagong an international logistics hub. Communication corridors will then transform into economic corridors. To make the tunnel economically viable, the country’s leading industrialists have put forward several important views, including ease and expansion of regional connectivity. Some of the leading businessmen with the FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam commented on the prospects of the new Tunnel.
New connectivity to ease business in Chittagong
Md. Mahbubul Alam President, FBCCI
Connectivity is key to business ease and expansion. Which the Prime Minister has deeply understood. South Chittagong is a neglected township. Now, following the concept of ‘one city to town’, another city will be developed in that area as a result of the construction of the tunnel. There will be industrialization. But in this case long term master plan is very important. Markets or other obstructions along the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, on the one hand cause accidents and on the other hand increase the cost of transporting goods. Therefore, there is no alternative to Dhaka-Chittagong Expressway to increase the attraction of foreign investors in Chittagong Economic Zone. The Bangabandhu Tunnel will also serve as a link between the eastern part of the country especially the Matarbari deep sea port and the Seven Sisters of India. Again, although the tunnel has been constructed, the connection of Cox’s Bazar or Matarbari has been developed only by road. But the communication system with Cox’s Bazar and other areas is still not so good. As a result, the benefit of the tunnel should be taken into account at the beginning. If proper steps are taken by addressing these issues of the communication system, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel will also play a big role in the economy of the country as Padma Bridge has played a role.
One city to town to be developed
Amir Ali Hussain Managing Director, BSRM Group
Bangabandhu Tunnel is undoubtedly an important project. But it is very important to develop parallelly the connecting with such projects. For example, how economic zones or industrial areas are being created there and how fast road connectivity is being developed with them. And one city to town concept should be developed in a practical sense. As far as I understand, initially the tunnel will be used by common people. There is not much scope for commercial use. Therefore, suitability for commercial use should be developed as soon as possible. Like Padma Bridge. It has many benefits commercially, while the public is also benefiting greatly from the project. So, I would say that the real benefits will come from these steps including widening the Cox’s Bazar road as necessary, creating connectivity with Matarbari. Again Dhaka-Chittagong an elevated expressway is very much needed. It is difficult to show its benefits in another project. Roads and railways need to focus more on the communication system. Another thing is that for the implementation of one city to town concept, more bridges should be built to connect the Anwara part with the main city. It will make significant progress in the southern part.
Help to develop Matarbari an economic hub
Md. Amirul Haque Managing Director, Premier Cement
Matarbari will be an economic hub for us. The road coming from Cox’s Bazar should connect with Matarbari. Then through the tunnel it can go to Mirsarai Economic Zone. Also, if a separate 10-lane road is taken up to Dhaka, if it is an expressway, then the distance from Chittagong to Dhaka can be reduced to 2 hours. In this way the dynamism of our economy will increase to a great extent. But still, I don’t see any plan to implement the concept of twin city. It is more important to bring across the river under a master plan for 30 or 50 years. Where residential, healthcare, educational institutions will be, and where industries will be built, all this must be done according to a specific table. In this case, tourism should also be given special importance. A tourism spot needs to be made across the river. In order not to destroy such a large space. Because once an unplanned structure is built, that part can no longer be developed. Besides, to make the twin city concept a reality, more connections should be made in the communication system on both sides of the river.
Grand dev plant has implemented
Syed Mohammad Tanveer Managing Director, Pacific Jeans Group
From the main city of Chittagong, the Bangabandhu Tunnel went to Anwara through the bottom of the river. The tunnel is a very important project in terms of connectivity. Because the other side of Karnaphulii.e. southern region was added to it. When this tunnel is connected with Matarbari through proper road connection, there will be a good result in the economy. Because Matarbari will be the economic hub around the deep-sea port. And these projects will be connected to the whole country without entering the main city of Chittagong.
If you look at the location, you will understand that it bypasses the city and connects directly to the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. The Bangabandhu Tunnel not only connected the communication system on both sides of the Karnaphuli River. Rather, one thing to remember is that a grand plan for the region is ‘One Region One Road’, later named BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). The objective of the project is to increase trade between the various countries of Asia, Africa and Europe by building appropriate infrastructure due to the connectivity plan. In this initiative, there is an opportunity to create a large field of export. However, for this, there is a strong need for strong communication management with this tunnel on one side Cox’s Bazar-Matarbari and on the other side the capital.
Now expecting large investment
Shahriar Jahan Rahat, Dy. Managing Director, KSRM Group
We have a large working population, which can play a major role in economic development. This requires a strong communication network. The Prime Minister has realized the issue and is implementing one initiative after another to facilitate and expand regional connectivity. Therefore, I would say that the implementation of the Bangabandhu Tunnel initiative in the communication infrastructure sector is a plan to position Chittagong as an investment hub for international trade. Now we have to make sure that all the other strategic things along with the infrastructure are in place with the big project. Only then will large investment come to the south bank of Karnaphuli. In order to ensure economic benefits from large projects, it is important to ensure all other strategic aspects including communication infrastructure. As a result, the stronger the country’s communication with the capital will be, the more our trade capacity will increase. Apart from reducing the cost of importing raw materials for the industry, there will be an opportunity to create more export areas. Moreover, the communication corridor that is being talked about in the South Asian region should be transformed into an economic corridor. Only then will industrial and economic growth be sustained and international connectivity established.
Tourism to be developed
Zahir Uddin Ahmad, Managing Director, Confidence Cement
The bridge reduces the navigability of the river. It is a simple chemistry. Therefore, if you think about the port, the construction of Bangabandhu tunnel is a timely and correct decision from the technical point of view. Secondly, the geographical location of Chittagong city – mountains on one side and sea on the other. So, the city has no room for expansion. Housing plans in the south will benefit greatly from using the tunnel. Big opportunities for industrialization will be created. However, if a six-lane or suitable road communication system is not built quickly with Cox’s Bazar, then the benefits of this tunnel will not come that way. It can be seen that there is a big project but not being able to facilitate important small projects with it, it is not easy to get the benefits of them. For example, if the road project of Cox’s Bazar was taken together with the tunnel, then at least a four-lane road would have been made by now at a relatively low cost. Several opportunities such as an opportunity for tourism would have been created, industry would have developed rapidly, export-oriented industries would have taken rapid steps targeting Matarbari deep sea port. So, I would say, Bangabandhu Tunnel has definitely created a big potential for the economy in the long run. Now depends on how it will be used.
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