BEIJING (China) April 26 (APP): Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
(CEO) China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited (COPHC), Zhang Baozhong has said compared to other conventional projects, the Gwadar port is a systematic one covering not only operations, but also the development of the free zone.
“We hope to create a new economic development model for the port by
transplanting China’s experience in building special zones or economic development areas to Pakistan, in a bid to drive the country’s industrial transformation,” he told China Daily on Wednesday.
He said the Gwadar free zone will be an exemplary community and added
his company has restored water and power supply as well as the machinery, warehouse and supervision system, and opened flights to China, the Middle East and Africa.
According to Hu Yaozong, deputy general manager of the Gwadar Free Zone
Company, if the current construction pace is maintained, the port will transform every three months.
He said the frequent inspections from businessmen, launches of new
projects and new ideas have turned the little fishing village into a global hub and investment haven.
Babu Gulab, chairman of the Gwadar District Council, recalled the moment
when Chinese and Pakistani leaders signed the deal two years ago.
“You cannot imagine how excited I was at that time. Chinese President Xi
is a far-sighted leader,” he said, explaining that others vision may cover several years, but Xi’s horizon can reach decades or even a century.
The port is now making headway according to the roadmap and as a key
part of the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, its benefits will extend not only to Chinese and Pakistani citizens but also to people in the whole region, Gulab said.
In 2013, local residents could only live on fishing. Every week, there
was only one flight from the port to Karachi.
The bilateral cooperation has led to major changes. More people now
travel to the area through daily flights, which are fully booked.
When a Chinese company took over the operations of the port in 2013 from
the Pakistani government, a piece of land valued at Rs 500,000 has soared 15 times, Muhammad Taimour Muzaffar Chaychi, a Pakistani real estate businessman said.
Such changes can be attributed to the bullish attitude towards the
port’s prospects, he explained.
Thanks to improved facilities, the port has become a magnet for business
investment. International airports, vocational training centers, modern hospitals, a coal-fired power plant with 300,000 kilowatts of installed capacity, and a desalinization plant that can process 5 million gallon waters each day have been set up on the port.
These investments have improved the locals’ lives and diversified the
port’s industrial structure.
“Our life has undergone major changes since the Chinese company came
here,” a local fisherman said.
The residents are the primary beneficiaries of the accelerated
construction of the Gwadar port. COPHC said it had guaranteed income for local residents.
To this end, the company not only encouraged a closer cooperation
between fishermen and the processing businesses, but also offered training to the fishermen.
China’s Red Cross Foundation is now constructing a first aid center on
the port. When completed in May, Chinese doctors will be sent to help local patients.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong was impressed by a local old
man named Shair Mohammad. Learning that China would donate a school for local students, the 65-year-old man contributed his land. The Faqeer primary school sits on the donated land.
But Mohammad’s 10-member family is not wealthy. His relatives persuaded
him to give up the plan given the soaring land prices, but he insisted on doing it, saying that education is the top priority of Pakistan, and what the Chinese company did is reliable.
Naseem Baloch, one of the old man’s sons, said his father recognizes the
significance of the “Belt and Road” and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and believes Xi is a far-sighted leader with a broad horizon.