Bangabandhu Tunnel: Expenditure much more than income

Bangabandhu Tunnel: Expenditure much more than income

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The tunnel under the Karnaphuli river in Chittagong is not seeing the expected traffic, due to which toll collection is less than expected. So far, the revenue from the tunnel is much less than the maintenance cost and toll collection.

According to the bridge department, so far an average of more than 4,500 vehicles have used the tunnel daily. It is estimated that at least four times more vehicles will pass through the tunnel. The average income from the tunnel toll is Tk 11,80,000 per day. On the other hand, the average expenditure on the collection and maintenance of this toll is Tk 3.75 million per day.

The main length of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel built under the Karnafuli River is 3.32 kilometers. This is the country's first tunnel built under the river. This tunnel has been constructed with Chinese loans and financing from the Bangladesh government.

Sources in the Bangladesh Bridge Authority said that installments of the loan taken from China will start being repaid from this year. Since the income is less than expected, the maintenance cost will have to be paid from the income from other bridges. As a result, the government will have to provide subsidies from the revenue sector to repay the loan.

The tunnel has made commuting easier as it now takes three to three and a half minutes to cross the road. However, economists, traders and the bridge authority said the roads on one side of the tunnel have not been widened. The Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) has not taken much initiative to expand the city on the other side of the Karnaphuli River. Industrialisation should take place in the centre of the tunnel. The use of the tunnel can be increased once these initiatives are taken.

Bridges Division Secretary Mohammad Monjur Hossain told Prothom Alo that work is underway to connect Cox's Bazar and Matarbari with a tunnel. If it can be connected to Cox's Bazar and Matarbari roads, the tunnel's usage and income will increase.

Regarding the payment of Chinese loan installments, he said that the matter is now under the Finance Ministry.

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