PM launches various mega projects in Gwadar
According to the government of Pakistan, Gwadar Port is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea in Balochistan. It is about 630 km away from Karachi and 120 km from the Iranian border. It is strategically placed at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just adjacent to the Strait of Hormuz, the key shipping route in and out of the Persian Gulf. Gwadar Port is in the process of becoming the Gateway Port for Pakistan also for the region. It is the first Deep Sea Port of the country, complementing and supplementing the other two vibrant ports i.e Karachi Port and Port Qasim. Its development is critical to stimulate the economic growth of Balochistan in particular and Pakistan in general as it will provide an outlet for land-locked Central Asian Republics (CARs), Western China and Afghanistan. Presently Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the groundbreaking of phase two of the Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ) and launched a number of other development and infrastructure projects counting an expo centre, agriculture industrial park and three factories. During a single-day visit to Gwadar, Imran Khan also inaugurated phase one of the GFZ, reviewed the progress on various development projects, and witnessed the signing of a number of MoUs. He was given a detailed briefing on the progress of the south Balochistan development package in line with the government’s attempts of focusing on the province. On the occasion, contracts were also inked on solarisation and a desalination plant to solve the issues of Gwadar related to water and electricity. In his address at the launching ceremony for the projects, PM said development plans for Gwadar had been made for some time but the lack of any real implementation was because of common challenges like supply of water, electricity and gas, and connectivity with other areas. But in the time we are now seeing ahead, Gwadar is going to become a focal point from which all of the country and mainly Balochistan which was left behind [in development] will benefit, he added. PM said the future of Gwadar was being witnessed by the water and energy projects underway also the new international airport being constructed there which would connect Gwadar to other areas. For Gwadar specifically, PM Imran Khan proclaimed a number of initiatives to promote human development like a technical college, a hospital, university, cheap loans for farmers and poor households and a programme for uplifting of Gwadar’s fishermen. Prime Minister also said the government of Pakistan was also preparing to better facilitate and service investors by a one-window operation so they would be encouraged to come to free zones and set up plants and industries which could contribute to exports. The increased exports would lead to wealth creation, correction of macroeconomic imbalance and job opportunities once demand for technical staff and trained labour increases, he added. Imran Khan said he wanted to see increased coordination between the federal and provincial governments to pull off the above steps to create a better atmosphere for investors. He thanked China in particular and said Pakistan stood to benefit from its relations with the country. Pakistan can benefit from its strategic location and also from the expertise of its friend China, which is becoming an economic power in the region, he said. PM also said his office would directly and regularly monitor all progress on development projects in Gwadar on a monthly basis. Speaking about the security situation, the prime minister said peace in Afghanistan remained a major concern and that the result of any violence or civil war would be felt on Gwadar’s trade with Central Asian states. He said the his government was involved in efforts and had talked to Iran as well to bring the opposing parties in the Afghan conflict towards a political settlement. It Is said that work for Iran’s trade through the Gwadar Port was in progress and the trade would start soon. The Ramadan-Gabd crossing point near Gwadar is active and fully functional now, fencing work on the Pakistan-Iran border is going on rapidly and new border markets are being established at the crossing points. Sources also recorded that as compared to the first phase of the Gwadar Free Zone, which comprised 60 acres of land, the second phase would be a huge project comprising 2,200 acres. Some 46 enterprises were engaged in phase-I of the free zone, while 12 new factories were being set up out of which three had been completed. The CPEC Authority stated that traffic at the port was increasing everyday and last year the trade volume increased by hundreds of times as 60,000 metric tons of cargo was transported during the year 2020-21 compared to only 1,300 metric tons in the preceding year. Five LPG vessels were berthed at the Gwadar Port. Statistics showed that the installation of a desalination plant in Gwadar with a capacity of 1.2 million gallons per day would be completed within a year. Another desalination plant with a capacity of 5m gallons per day was included in the prime minister’s south Balochistan package.