Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first underwater tunnel in South Asia

Home » Biggest projects » Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, the first underwater tunnel in South Asia

The latest Oct 2023

Barely a month after its completion, the Bangabandhu Tunnel successfully underwent both normal and emergency test runs in early October 2023. The tunnel is expected to be inaugurated on Oct 28 and open to the public from Oct 29.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel Project Overview

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is in short known as Bangabandhu Tunnel or otherwise Karnaphuli Tunnel. It is an under-construction underwater expressway tunnel in the port city of Chattogram, Bangladesh, across the Karnaphuli River.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is the first underwater tunnel in the South Asia region. It is 3.32 kilometres long and 10.80 meters wide. The tunnel has a shield section of 2,450 meters in length and an outer diameter of 11.8 meters. It features an approach road of 5.25 kilometres alongside 727 meters of an over-bridge.

China Communications Construction Company Limited (CCCC), is the Karnaphuli Tunnel project contractor. CCCC is working on the project in collaboration with China Road and Bridge Corporation. The cost of the project is estimated at US$ 1.1bn, of which around half is financed by the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China.

Significant progress of Bangabandhu Tunnel - Bangladesh Post

Start of construction of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel

The overall construction of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel began in October 2017.

Upon completion, the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel is expected to improve the Dhaka—Chittagong—Cox’s Bazar highway network, and the traffic conditions in Chittagong, as well as promote the economic development of Bangladesh.

Also Read: Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) project timeline and all you need to know

It will also play an important role in improving the Asian Highway Network, strengthening the connectivity between Bangladesh and neighbouring countries, and boosting the international development of Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel Project timeline 


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel project on 14 October.


In February, Sheikh Hasina also inaugurated the tunnel boring phase of the project. A 94-meter slurry pressure balanced high tunnel boring machine (TBM) with a diameter of 12.12 meters and a weight of 2,200 tons is being used for the construction of the project. This makes the project the first overseas project to utilize a large-diameter underwater TBM tunnel manufactured by a Chinese Company.


Installation work of the first tube of the tunnel, going from the city back to Anwara, was completed in August.

In December, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader inaugurated the installation work of the second tube of the tunnel.


In October, the two ends of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel were joined beneath the Karnaphuli River.

Nov 2021

Md Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, project director of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, wrote to the Bangladesh Bridge Authority seeking an additional six months to make up for the delayed start of construction and the procedural delays in payment to contractors.

The project is now scheduled for completion in December 2022.

March 2022

Construction of the Karnaphuli Tunnel 80% Complete

The construction of the Karnaphuli Tunnel has already been completed by an impressive 80% according to the project director, Harunur Rashid. The latter explained that the works done so far include the saying of slabs on the tube, the construction of project site approach roads as well as other internal roads.

The project’s officials are expecting and hoping that the entire project, the excavation work of which was inaugurated by Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister under the Karnaphuli River on February 24, 2019,  will be completed within the stipulated time, December this year. 

The progress of the construction of the Karnaphuli Tunnel was heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact between February and March 2020, construction work of the project almost came down to a halt, due to the lockdowns and holidays. However, following the withdrawal of the lockdowns, construction works of the tunnel are now back on track. 

The total cost of the project is approximately US$ 980M, of which China is providing close to US$ 638 M. The rest of the amount is provided by the government of Bangladesh.

Jul 2022

Bangabandhu Tunnel Project in Bangladesh in Good Progress

The construction of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tunnel otherwise known as Karnaphuli Tunnel in Bangladesh is reportedly progressing well. The work, including the construction of the main tunnel and the approach roads in Chattogram, is 86% complete. This was revealed by Harunur Rashid Chowdhury, the director of the construction of the multilane road tunnel.

Also Read: Strait of Gibraltar underwater railway tunnel project coming back to life

Also, the construction of the two tubes of the tunnel under the river Karnaphuli has already been completed. The first tube, according to Chowdhury took 17 months to complete. The second tube on the other hand was completed in 10 months.

Structural work on the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman underwater tunnel is still ongoing.

CCCCC to offer Bangabandhu Tunnel maintenance and toll collection services

In May, the Roads and Highways Department revealed plans to hire China Communications Construction Company (CCCCC). The Chinese government-owned company would reportedly offer maintenance and toll collection for the Bangabandhu Tunnel. The Bangladesh government would hire the tunnel constructor in the direct procurement system. It said it was because of the proposal of CCCC and their previous experience.

It is reportedly necessary to hire a service provider/operator for maintenance and toll collection work before the Bangabandhu Tunnel is opened for vehicular traffic. The major maintenance functions before opening the tunnel are tunnel maintenance, bridge/viaduct maintenance, and approach road maintenance on both sides.

Installation and maintenance of tunnel health monitoring systems, patrol and rescue, automatic way scale management and toll collection are also some of the major maintenance functions. These is in addition to the Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) surveillance system, tunnel water supply and drainage system, tunnel fire rescue system, tunnel air ventilation and lighting system and lighting system installation and maintenance.

Aug 2023

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel to be inaugurated in October 

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, which is being constructed under the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram, will be inaugurated on October 28. This was announced by the Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader.

The announcement comes approximately two months after the Project Director (PD) Md Harunur Rashid Chowdhury revealed that the project was 97.5% complete overall. Chowdhury explained that by mid-Jun 2023 they had fully completed work on the cross passage and tunnel related to the toll plaza. Works on the drainage system and installation of pumps had also been completed according to the PD and bridges, totalling 740 metres in length built.

“As far as the main tunnel is concerned, we have completed 99.5% of the work. We are currently doing the finishing touches to ensure the safety and security of the first under-river tunnel in South Asia,” concluded Chowdhury.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel.

Sep 2023

Bangabandhu Rahman Tunnel construction is 100% complete

Approximately a month before its set inauguration date the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel in Chattogram is now ready.

According to Obaidul Quader, the primary construction phase of the tunnel was successfully concluded towards the end of September 2023. Quader is the Road Transport and Bridges Minister. He explained that the focus is on resolving technical matters within the tunnel and insisted that the main tunnel is now fully equipped and prepared for vehicular movement.