GWADAR / QUETTA: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has directed the authorities concerned to complete all development projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for Gwadar in time to ensure that a fully functional Gwadar port emerges as a major trade hub on the world map.
Speaking after performing the groundbreaking of the Rs17 billion East Bay Expressway in Gwadar on Wednesday, he said the completion of these development projects would change the small fishing town into a global shipping port very soon.
The prime minister said there was no opposition to the CPEC and parties were on one page for completion of this mega project. He said that as far as difference of opinion was concerned it was part of democracy. “No party was opposing the CPEC,” he said.
He said the 19.5km six-lane East Bay Expressway would help in cargo handling through roads and increase connectivity with the rest of the country. The project would link the Gwadar port with the Makran Coastal Highway and improve logistic transportation of import and export, he said and expressed the hope that the completion of expressway would also reduce travel time between Gwadar and major cities of Pakistan. He said the expressway was symbolic of the lofty Pakistan-China friendship and the CPEC would further strengthen and deepen their strategic partnership.
He said the free economic zone in Gwadar would be completed this year, while the work on the port project, Pakistan-China Friendship Hospital, a power plant, Gwadar airport, etc, under the Rs170bn plans for uplift of Gwadar would also be completed on time.
Mr Abbasi said the infrastructure projects would go a long way in generating economic activity and ensuring Pakistan’s progress. He said a number of power projects under the CPEC had been inaugurated and were playing a significant role in the nation-building activities.
Referring to the two main issues raised by Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, he said the work was going on to provide electricity and clean drinking water to local residents and added that it was the responsibility of the government to address these issues. He said the people would feel the difference in a few weeks.
Regarding the issues related to border access with Iran, the prime minister directed Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal to take measures to facilitate the people.
The prime minister said the people of Gwadar needed to be accommodated at all levels. They should be imparted training and provided capacity building and education so that they were seamlessly integrated into new jobs being offered to them, he added.
He appreciated the local boat-building industry and said it was part of local heritage which needed to be encouraged. He asked the provincial government to submit its suggestions in this regard and said the federal government would fully support the traditional trade and encourage it.
Mr Abbasi said work on road to Khuzdar was being completed and it would transform the entire landscape. He said that today Gwadar was at a distance of hours and not days anymore.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2017