KARACHI: CPEC Authority chairman retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Tuesday that no power on earth could sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it was the country’s national project.

Speaking at a ceremony at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, he said CPEC, being a flagship project of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, had improved the road connectivity between the two countries and would do so further.

On the eastern alignment of CPEC, Mr Bajwa said only one section, Sukkur-Hyderabad, was left that was also launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently.

He said a request for proposals for this project would be completed under public-private partnership mode and floated within a month and after that the groundwork would be started.

‘No power on earth can sabotage the corridor’

“Now our full focus is on western alignment,” he said, adding that the motorway from Islamabad to Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan) was in its final stage while the DI Khan to Zhob motorway project had also been approved by the Chinese side.

Similarly, he said the groundwork on road from Zhob to Quetta had also been started whereas Quetta to Khuzdar, Khuzdar to Awaran and Hoshab, and Khuzdar-Basima roads were also under construction and all of them would be connected with different areas of Balochistan and Sindh and with Gwadar. Within the next three years, all these routes would be connected, he added.

Mr Bajwa said the western alignment passed through remoter areas where there was extreme poverty. The road projects under CPEC would improve connectivity and create new job opportunities for the people living along the roads, he said, adding that this would ultimately bring prosperity to the area.

The CPEC Authority chairman said: “We are now moving beyond energy and road infrastructure to agriculture, special economic zones (SEZs), tourism, science and technology and information technology. He said poverty alleviation could be ensured through those measures being executed under CPEC Phase-II.

In the agriculture sector, he said: “We are moving towards corporate farming and community farming, for which we are working with the provinces.”

Similarly, in the industrial sector, work in Rashakai and Faisalabad was in full swing and a number of industries were being set up there.

In Rashakai SEZ, he said 1,000 acres of land had been allocated but some 2,000 applications had so far been received for which 3,600 acres were required.

Mr Bajwa said that a Canadian and German joint venture had applied for Allama Iqbal SEZ Faisalabad. Similarly, a group of Pakistani American doctors was also interested in electro-medical equipment manufacturing, he said, adding that a lot of people were interested in the Dhabeji zone in Sindh which was more suitable for many investors because of easy approach to the Karachi port.

With respect to the industrial development under CPEC, Mr Bajwa said keeping in view the rising interest of foreign investors in the Gwadar Free Zone, the government had decided to launch a second phase of the zone spanning over 2,200 acres.

The foreign investors, he said, were already showing interest in the second phase that would help bring a huge foreign direct investment in the country.

He said the first phase of the Gwadar Free Zone was launched two years back on 60 acres which was now fully colonised and well-populated.

He said six of the 12 factories had been completed while the rest were under construction. Out of the completed industries, one had also started production, he added.

He said overall work on the Gwadar port and other projects in the city was in full swing. Four port buses had been completed, customs deployed and the handling capacity of the port was also being increased, he added.

Mr Bajwa said Prime Minister Imran Khan had specifically formed a separate focus group aimed at increasing traffic of the seaport. The group was led by the maritime ministry while the commerce ministry was also its part, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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