Chinese firm China Communication Construction Company Limited (CCCCL) will be appointed as service provider for the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under Karnaphuli River in Chattagram.
Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) at a meeting approved a proposal in this regard on Wednesday.
The same company has been engaged by the government to build the tunnel and its associated infrastructure.
As per the proposal, the Chinese company will collect the toll from the tunnel user vehicles and also conduct its operation and maintenance work at a cost of Tk 983.82 crore for a five-year tenure.
However, the toll structure for the vehicles has yet not been determined by the government.
The under-construction Tunnel is the first underwater expressway in the country, expected to be open to traffic by the end of 2022.
According to officials of the project, 86 per cent of the tunnel construction, including the construction of the main tunnel and the approach roads in Chattogram, has been completed.
The main tunnel is 3.32 kilometres long. It has two tubes, each 2.45 km long, and has a diameter of 10.80 metres. Each tube will consist of two lanes. The tubes are 12 metres apart from each other.
There will be a 5.35 km connecting road on the west and east ends of the main tunnel, along with a 727-metre long bridge.
The tunnel goes under the Karnaphuli at the Patenga Naval Academy point in the port city to a depth of 18m to 31m to Anwara Upazila on the other side of the river.
Officials believe there will be better connectivity between the tourist city Cox’s Bazar, southern Chattogram and the rest of the country once the tunnel is open. It will also decrease the number of vehicles using the two bridges over the river.
South of the river in Anwara lies the Korean and Chinese export processing zones, the CUFL factory and Parki Beach. All routes to Cox’s Bazar, Banshkhali and Matarbari power station and deep seaport go through Anwara.
Work on the project began in December 2017. But the pace of work was a bit slow during the coronavirus pandemic.
Official said the construction of the two tubes of the tunnel under the river has already been completed. The first tube took 17 months to complete, but the second one was completed in 10 months. Structural work on the tunnel is currently ongoing.
Jointly funded by Bangladesh and China, the initial cost of the project was estimated at Tk 9880 crore. The cost was subsequently revised up to Tk 10,374 crore.