Bangabandhu tunnel: Munshiganj’s Jewel pays the first toll
Jewel Rana, a businessman from Munshiganj, wanted to be the first commuter to cross Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel. So, he along with some of his friends reached Chattogram’s Anwara at 3:00am on Saturday night. And he paid the first toll at 6:00am Sunday.
Jewel Rana said, “While we were waiting near the entrance of the tunnel, we noticed some other vehicles waiting there as well. At the time, I felt that I might not be the first person to pay the toll. But now I feel good I paid the first toll.”
The driver of the vehicle Md Shahed said, “All my life I drove through bridges or rode on ferries. This time I’ll drive from under a river and I’m extremely excited.” Jewel Rana and Shahed are not alone, many others were also elated to enter the tunnel for the first time ever.
Though prime minister Sheikh Hasina opened the tunnel on Saturday, traffic movement started from Sunday 6:00am. Many had gathered with their vehicles on both ends of the tunnel to cross it for the first time.
Followed by Jewel Rana, driver Shafiq Alam of Satkania paid the second toll on Anwara end. He was taking a passenger named Md Zakaria to the airport. Shafiq Alam said, “It’s so surprising that we are reaching the airport so fast!”
Meanwhile, Dulal Sikder along with his wife Salma Akhter and their children entered the tunnel from the Patenga end around 6:00am. Salma Akhter said, “Since the toll box is in Anwara, we couldn’t pay the first toll. But, we entered the tunnel first and it felt good.”
A bus of BD Bus Lover Group paid the first toll as a passenger bus. Their bus was decorated with colourful fabric and flowers. A member of the group Zunayedul Haque said, “We had been waiting at the Patenga end since 12:00am and entered the tunnel at 6:00am as soon as it was opened.”
Another commuter named Anita Mubasshira who was driving from Chattogram city towards Anwara said, “We have waited a long time for the tunnel to be opened. So, while crossing the tunnel, I felt proud of myself as a Bangladeshi. And the reason is that we have the first tunnel of this sort in South Asia.”
Deputy project director of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, Md Abul Kalam Azad said, “We opened the tunnel for traffic movement at 6:00am. The tunnel will be open 24/7 from now on. When the traffic flow will reduce at the dead of night, some lanes of toll collection will be closed off. But, none of the vehicles would have to wait.”
There’s an instruction to keep the speed limit at 60 kmph inside the tunnel and there are arrangements in place that the vehicles do not stop inside the tunnel, he added.