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GWADAR: Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Kamran Michael has said that Gwadar Port will soon become a game-changer in maritime trade activities in the region owing to its geostrategic importance and also as one of the deep seaports outside the Strait of Hormuz with the shortest land connection with western China, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs).

Speaking at the end of his day-long visit to Gwadar on Tuesday evening, he said that all steps were being taken to connect the Gwadar Port with the rest of country under the CPEC.

He inspected the pace of work on development projects launched in Gwadar, including the country’s first free zone, Gwadar Port Eastbay Expressway and Gwadar Port Business Complex.

The minister was accompanied by Evert Jacob Schut (from the Netherlands) and Bishop Azad Marshal, board members of the Institute of Back Adults Development and Training, a non-profit organisation devoted to promoting quality education in Pakistan.

The minister briefed on these projects, which are being developed under the CPEC and PSDP-funded programmes.

Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) Chairman Dostain Khan Jamaldini informed the minister that the 18.9-km-long Eastbay Expressway of the Gwadar Port would be constructed under the CPEC/Early Harvest Project with an estimated cost of Rs14,016 million and it would be completed by 2018. The six-lane expressway, he said, would provide a direct route for cargo traffic to and from the port, thereby providing relief to people from vehicular congestion.

Besides, a two-way railway link will also be constructed along the expressway.

The minister was informed that the Concession Holder, a Chinese company, would build a state-of-the-art commodity display and exhibition centre on the initial 60-acre piece of free zone land, adjacent to the existing port, while the entire Gwadar Port free zone was spread over 2,281 acres.

Besides, another project — Gwadar Port business complex worth Rs2.18 billion — is being developed under the PSDP funding and will be completed by 2018.

This complex would provide business and commercial facilities such as banks, shipping agents offices, container yards, warehouses, cafeteria, a seamen centre and trucking stands and repairing areas.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2016