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Completion of first underwater tunnel for Karnaphuli River Tunnel Project

The historic completion of the massive first underwater tunnel project in Bangladesh by SMEC (below) was made possible by a multinational team (above). Gavin Strid, Chief Technical Principal, Project Management, is standing in a red T-shirt.

The Karnaphuli River Tunnel Project reached a key milestone on 31 July 2020 with the completion of the first underwater tunnel in Bangladesh, after the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) broke through at the Karnaphuli River east bank working shaft. This is the first of two road tunnels under the Karnaphuli River, each 2.5km long and 11m in diameter. 

Together with around six km of approach roads, the tunnel will connect both the city of Chattogram, the largest sea port in Bangladesh, and regions to the north of Chattogram, with the relatively undeveloped south east corner of Bangladesh, and provide a future link to neighbouring Myanmar. 

“The slurry shield tunneling method used on this project is very complex and challenging due to soft soil conditions encountered,” says Gavin Strid, Chief Technical Principal, Project Management. “Notwithstanding, the first tunnel has been completed despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19. The breakthrough of the TBM is another huge milestone which we, together with our partners and contractors, are very proud of.”

A highlight of the project has been the significant development of slurry shield type tunneling experience for the local consultants’ and international contractor’s teams. Many more tunnelling projects are now coming on line in Dhaka where the soil types will require slurry shield tunneling methods. Addressing this national skills gap is vital and has ongoing benefits for the country’s infrastructure and development. Read more

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