In the last decade, Bangladesh has completed or is almost done with many important infrastructure projects. Some examples are the main bridge section of Padma Multipurpose Bridge and the MRT Line-6, the Uttara to Agargaon section of Bangladesh’s first metro rail project, which were opened in June and December 2022, respectively. Other projects are also nearing completion and are expected to be ready by 2023.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel Project
On February 24, 2019, the construction of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River began, connecting the main city of Chittagong with the Anwara Upazila of Chittagong, which is the country’s commercial capital. This tunnel, built at a depth of 150 feet in the Karnaphuli River, is the first underground tunnel project in Bangladesh. The cost of implementing the project has been estimated at Tk 10,374 crore, of which Tk 4,461 crore is being financed by the Bangladesh government, and the remaining Tk 5,913 crore is being financed by China’s Exim Bank.
The main tunnel is four lanes and 3.4 km long, with two tubes with a length of 2.45 km and an inner diameter of about 11 (10.80) meters inside the tunnel. The total length of the entire project is 9.47 km, including 5.35 km of approach road at both ends of the tunnel, and 727 m of overbridges for entry through one end and exit through the other end of the tunnel. The Chinese company, China Communication and Construction Company Limited, and the Bangladesh Bridge Department have worked to implement the project. Meanwhile, the work on the southern part of the tunnel has been fully completed, and the work on the northern side is also nearing completion.
The tunnel is expected to be inaugurated in March 2023, as the work on the intersection roads at the Patenga and Anwara ends of the tunnel is not yet fully completed. Once operational, the tunnel is expected to carry over 28,000 (28,305) vehicles daily by 2025, rising to around 38,000 (37,946) by 2030. The project will reduce the distance of Cox’s Bazar district from Chittagong by 40 km and the distance from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar by at least 50 km, which will help reduce costs by reducing the time and fuel consumption of transporting goods and passengers. The tunnel will essentially help transform Chittagong into a ‘one city, two towns’ model, modeled after Shanghai in China. By doing this, it is expected to accelerate the country’s export trade by increasing production-oriented activities in Chittagong and Anwara through industrial development.
Padma Bridge Rail Link project
The Padma Multi-purpose Bridge is one of the notable first 8 fast-track projects of the Bangladesh government. The construction of the upper road section of this two-story bridge was completed and opened for traffic in June 2022. However, the railway connection work in the lower part is still ongoing. As there was no rail network in the southern part of the country previously, Bangladesh Railways, under the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, is working to establish a completely new rail network on this route. The budget for this ongoing mega-project, located around the southern part of the country, is more than 39 thousand (39,247) crores, of which 85 percent is being funded by the Chinese government and China Exim Bank, and the remaining 15 percent is being funded by the Bangladesh government.
The project is being implemented under the G2G model, with China Railway Group Ltd undertaking the construction work. Already, construction of 172 km of new railway from Dhaka’s Kamalapur, via Gendaria and Keraniganj, to Jessore via Padma Bridge has been completed. The Honorable Minister of Railways, Md Nurul Islam Sujan, said that this project, which started in January 2016, will be inaugurated from Dhaka in June 2023. Along with the construction of 66 major bridges, 244 minor and medium bridges, culverts, and underpasses, 6 station platforms, approach roads, administration buildings, and 14 new stations will also be constructed under this project.
Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Ghundum Railway project
Another fast-track project among the ongoing projects in Bangladesh is the Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Railway Project. This 128 km single line dual-gauge track project will directly connect Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts to Chittagong, starting from Dohazari in Chittagong. The construction of this project started in March 2018 with a combined financing of more than Tk 18 thousand crores (18035 crores) from the Asian Development Bank and the Government of Bangladesh.
According to project authorities, the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Gumdhum Railway project has already completed the construction of a total of 100 km single line-dual gauge railway line. In addition, 39 major bridges and 242 culverts have also been constructed around this railway line. Overall, about 80 percent of the project has been completed, and preparations are underway to open it to the public in October 2023.
According to the 7th Five-Year Plan and Railway Master Plan of the Bangladesh Ministry of Planning, it will be possible to increase goods transportation by 15 percent and passenger transportation by 10 percent through the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Gumdhum railway project. Furthermore, if the project is completed, Cox’s Bazar, one of the tourist cities in the country, will have road, air, and rail connectivity. This will lead to increased tourism in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts, as well as an expansion of trade. Such developments will play an important role in the overall social and economic development of the region.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport Third Terminal
The third terminal of Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is one of the ongoing infrastructure development projects in Bangladesh. Currently, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport has the capacity to handle 80 lakh passengers annually, but the annual passenger traffic is expected to increase to close to one and a half crore (1,40,00,000) by 2025 and to two and a half crore (2,50,00,000) by 2035. To handle this additional passenger volume, construction work began in December 2019 at a cost of Tk 21,300 crore with joint funding from the Bangladesh Government and JICA to construct a third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. As of now, 51 percent of the terminal work has been completed, and the terminal is expected to be opened for public use in October 2023, according to CAAB Chairman, Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman.
The new terminal, spanning 230,000 square meters, will serve 12 million passengers annually, resulting in an increase in the airport’s annual passenger handling capacity from 80 lahks to 2 crores once the terminal is fully operational. Additionally, apron parking for a total of 37 aircraft is being constructed at this terminal, covering an area of about 5.5 lahks (5,42,000) square meters. The terminal’s 27,000 square meter import cargo complex unloads over 3 lahks (2,73,470) tonnes of cargo annually, while the 36,000 square meter export cargo complex handles about 5.5 lahks (5,46,941) tonnes of cargo annually. Furthermore, the terminal will have a separate station with direct connectivity to Metrorail and the Dhaka Elevated Expressway.
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant
The construction of Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant at Ruppur started in November 2017. On October 10, 2021, Bangladesh became the 33rd country in the world to produce electricity through nuclear reactors with the RPV installation of the first unit of the power plant. In terms of expenditure, the budget for this mega-project, the biggest ever in Bangladesh, has been estimated at $13 (12.65) billion or about 1 lakh 14 thousand crore taka. Under this project, two units with a total power generation capacity of 2400 MW are being constructed in two phases. The first unit is going to start generating electricity on a trial basis by the end of 2023, said Project Director Dr. Md Shaukat Akbar. According to a source at Dhaka Tribune, the Uranium-235 fuel required for the first unit of the nuclear power plant in the country is going to arrive in September 2023.
Currently, Bangladesh has a power generation capacity of more than 25 thousand MW (25,566). According to the power system master plan of the power department, the power generation capacity of Bangladesh by 2030 is more than 40 thousand megawatts, and by 2041, the target has been set to increase to 60 thousand megawatts. The Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant will play an important role in achieving this target. According to Euro Nuclear, 8 and 12 kilowatts of electricity can be generated per kg of coal and fuel oil, respectively, while around 24,000 megawatts of electricity can be generated from each kg of Uranium-235. It is expected that the Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant will play an important role in the industrial development of Bangladesh as a cost-effective and reliable power generation source after its inauguration.