GWADAR: Amid ongoing protests in Gwadar over lack of civic facilities, the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development has expressed concern over the sluggish progress on projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the port city.
The committee led by PPP Senator Salim Mandviwalla had a rare, guided visit to Gwadar for an on-site meeting on CPEC-related projects and observed that progress on infrastructure and basic facilities had not met expectations so far and was not enough to lure local and international investors.
This was reinforced by General Officer Commander (GOC) Special Security Division South Major General Inayat Hussain, who testified before the meeting that next summer would be real hell in Gwadar if immediate steps were not taken to address basic issues confronting the people of Gwadar.
“Even this investment will roll back, please cut through the red tape and ensure gas and electricity. Next summer will be a real hell and create problems,” Mr Inayat warned and informed the senate committee that the people of Gwadar were holding a continuous sit-in. “We need electricity before next summer,” he said.
Senator Mandviwalla said that water, gas and electricity were big challenges for the city and, as warned by GOC Inayat, unless these issues were addressed the difficulties of the people of Gwadar would not subside and their living standards would not improve.
He asked the government to seriously focus on providing basic facilities and hoped that the commitment shown by the federal and provincial governments as well as by the CPEC authority would resolve the problems, address red tape and improve water distribution system to resolve such issues at the earliest.
Senator Palwasha Khan said the progress on paper stood in total contrast to the ground reality. She said on paper large financial allocations had been made but these were not noticeable on ground except a few buildings and the local people were living in sub-human lives at a time they learn day in and out that large amounts were being spent in their name.
Senator Shafique Tareen said the only thing to notice around was the new building of a technical and vocational institute which neither had any syllabus, nor training modules or the teachers. The explanation is that factories would be set up first and syllabus would be designed as per requirement of those factories.
During the meeting, Iqbal Z. Ahmad, chairman of Associated Group that controls Pakistan Gasport LNG Terminal and Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited, complained that the Gwadar Port Authority was not issuing no-objection certification for a virtual pipeline and barge-mounted floating storage unit at Gwadar that could address gas and electricity shortage of Gwadar residents and investors within seven months.
He said his company was capable of delivering gas and electricity in the port city within seven months if facilitated by the government and reported that he was ready to provide 300 million cubic feet per day of LNG in cylinders to the people at half the cost of LPG.
The project will have annual turnover of $1bn and generate economic activity of over $10bn. GPA Chairman Naseer Kashani challenged some of the facts, saying the GPA originally had an agreement with Daewoo Corporation of Korea which planned a virtual pipeline and also had a licence from Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021