GWADAR: After becoming fully operational, the Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Zone (GFZ) would generate economic activities of around $10 billion per annum, besides creating thousands of new jobs, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Chairman retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Monday.
“Soon after the completion of GFZ, a lot of manufacturing and trading activities will start, cargoes will move, and transshipment activities will increase,” Mr Bajwa said while talking to the media here after reviewing the Gwadar Port and other projects under CPEC. “We will continue to monitor the development work in Gwadar till all projects become fully operational,” Mr Bajwa said. The port’s infrastructural work has been completed by the China Port Holding Company at a cost of around $300 million and all four berths are fully operational.
The official said that during the last few months, over 67,000 tonnes of cargo had been handled at the port, comprising consignments mostly under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement which were later transported to Afghanistan.
A vessel carrying 8,000 cubic feet liquefied petroleum gas is due at the port on Tuesday while another ship with 24,000 tonnes of diammonium phosphate fertiliser and feed cargo for Afghanistan would arrive here from Australia, he added.
The official said that port handling capacity has been enhanced while the Customs system is also in place to facilitate the investors and traders. Now our full emphasis is to increase the port traffic for which we are pursuing the logistic companies to establish their offices in the city, he added.
With regards to GFZ, Mr Bajwa said the first phase, spread over 60 acres of land, has already been completed, with 47 enterprises registered. Six factories had been completed, three of them were now fully operational, while six others were under construction. For the last three years, he said, both the port and free zone had created some 1,200 direct jobs, while 12,000 more persons were hired for building the support infrastructure.
The second phase of GFZ would be spread over 2,221 acres of land and Prime Minister Imran Khan would perform its ground breaking.
He said the China Port Holding Company had already lined up an investor for the second phase, who would need some 1,600 acres of land. The investor had pledged a direct investment of $3 billion in the single industry that would create 30,000 jobs.
“The Eastbay Expressway would directly take the cargo from port to M-8 for onward shipment to Karachi and the rest of the country. 94 per cent work on the expressway had been completed, which would hopefully be inaugurated in September,” he said. Regarding the reservations of fishermen on the expressway development, he said three bridges were under construction to address their concerns.
Similarly, he said, work on Gwadar Airport is also going on at fast pace while the technical and vocational institutes in the city would also be completed in October. Mr Bajwa said the prime minister had specifically directed to create maximum job opportunities in the area, with capacity building of the local youth by imparting them skill training.
The CPEC Authority chairman said a 150-bed hospital was under construction in the Gwadar city, which was a gift from the Chinese president for the local residents. The master plan of Gwadar City had also been approved and it is now at the implementation stage.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2021