Progress reviewed on $3.5bn coastal development zone plan in Karachi

Published May 3, 2022
The sketch of the project was shared by former federal Maritime Affairs 
minister Syed Ali Zaidi.
The sketch of the project was shared by former federal Maritime Affairs minister Syed Ali Zaidi.

ISLAMABAD: Top officials of the Board of Investment (BOI) and Karachi Port Trust (KPT) have reviewed progress on the Karachi Comprehensive Coastal Development Zone programme, which has been included under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Calling it a “game-changer”, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led federal government in September 2021 had unveiled the ambitious plan to rebuild Karachi’s coastline under CPEC with $3.5 billion “direct Chinese investment” that aims at overhauling the city’s seaboard with new berths for the port, a new fishery port and a ‘majestic harbour bridge’ connecting it with Manora islands and Sandspit beach.

KPT chairman Nadir Mumtaz informed the meeting that the spadework of the project was being expedited for the early uplift of the coastal zone.

The zone will be located in the backwater area on the west embankment of the KPT and the project entails development of three artificial islands through reclamation of land in the surrounding waters.

The KPT has developed the concept of the zone project as means to solve the issues related to the port in order to solve many of the infrastructure issues plaguing the city as a whole besides development of fisheries industry of Pakistan and providing opportunities, generating economic activities as well as enabling transfer of technology in the maritime industry.

The project, being initiated by the Joint Working Group (JWG) under the second phase of CPEC, is led by the BOI from Pakistan side and the National Development and Reforms Commission from Chinese side.

Speaking on the occasion, BOI Secretary Fareena Mazhar said that the JWG was fully committed to the projects under its domain and all-out efforts for early development of the zone would be ensured.

Issues being faced in the development of the zone were discussed in detail and possible solutions were deliberated upon. Officials of the ministry of maritime affairs also participated in the review meeting.

China has had successful experience of the reconstruction of shanty towns, which is a key tool for poverty alleviation. A proposal has been included in the project within the scope of the KPT for the possible resettlement of Machhar Colony by the ministry of maritime affairs.

The resettlement project may lead to retrieval of the encroached land by providing alternative accommodation to the marginalised segment of the society within the urban landscape of Karachi.

An initiative of the ministry of maritime affairs, the zone project spreads over 640 hectares, or 1,581 acres, on the western backwaters marsh land of the KPT, leading to revamp one of the oldest city slums Machhar Colony while relocating its more than half a million population.

The project, the initial announcement had said, would also house a state-of-the-art fishing port with a world-class fisheries export processing zone to boost Pakistan’s trade potential. It would also drastically improve the marine ecosystem and reduce pollution by establishing a water treatment plant at the mouth of the Lyari river, it had said.

Published in Dawn,May 3rd, 2022

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