Gwadar – a city of development, prosperity in the making

Gwadar City

By Abdul Shakoor Khan & Umar Khan

QUETTA, Aug 27 (APP): With inflation and unemployment looming like never before, the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project has assumed more importance with its potential of encouraging investors for investment and creation of more employment opportunities.

It was yet another practical manifestation of Pakistan-China friendship when this huge project was signed marking the beginning of a new era of development for Pakistan.

The port city of Gwadar is going to be the hub of business activities in the future where 70 to 80 percent of locals are attached to fishing business, while the remaining 20 to 30% with border trade.

Pak-China joint venture’s decade-long stewardship had remarkably transformed Gwadar from a modest village into a thriving modern city, Chairman China Overseas Port Holding Company, YO BO said.

“Given that majority of the fishermen in Gwadar have no technological knowledge, under the CPEC, they will be provided with technology and other facilities to enhance breeding and grow seafood business through innovative means,” he said.

Mr. YO BO highlighted China’s substantial investments in Gwadar’s growth including the construction of the airport, healthcare facilities and other infrastructure.

The Gwadar Free Zone, which came under the auspices of the Free Zone Company in 2018, has already established a vibrant phase one, spanning over 25 hectares adjacent to the port attracting six companies to launch their businesses.

The Gwadar port is fully operational and equipped to manage both imports and exports. According to official data, from 2022 to June 14, 2023, around 637,124 metric tons cargos have been landed in Gwadar.

Sharif Ibrahim, a resident of Gwadar city, said the government had inaugurated the Mand-Pishin border marketplace at Paki-Iran border besides demolishing unnecessary checkposts in the area to boost business activities.

“The border market has created a great number of employment opportunities for the locals,” he said, adding, “The federal government has also awarded 2000 boat engines to local fishermen and distributed 3,000 solar panels among 89,000 registered fishermen in the port city.”

Former president of Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Fida Dashti however underlined the port’s role in facilitating barter trade with Iran, Afghanistan and Russia, highlighting Gwadar’s strategic advantages over Port Qasim.

“Opening of border market at Gwadar is a remarkable step, but unless the government involves local business community in the entire process of business at the border, one can’t expect the prolific rise of trade between Iran and Pakistan.

A committee shall immediately be formed to take a decision regarding allotment of shops at border market and other SOPs regarding the same,” he emphasized.

The former president and serving executive member of the QCCI said that by taking local population of Gwadar and the business community on board, a number of more avenues could be explored to grow business in the port city.

A local fisherman Sulaiman said Gwadar Port was in dire need of a processing and cold storage facility to protect fish from decay.

“Gwadar has a thriving fishing industry that provides employment opportunities and contributes not only to the local economy but there is a huge potential of fish export which is heavily based on the establishment of storage and transportation facilities,” he mentioned.

Director General Gwadar Devolvement Authority Mujeeb ur Rehman Qandrani told APP that several projects had been completed in Gwadar related to education, health, water and electricity to facilitate the residents of the city.

He said the authorities had laid down 152 kilometers long pipelines in the city to provide clean drinking water to the citizens through the Shadi Kor and Swad dams.

The water storage capacity of Shadi Kor dam was 35000 acre-feet and would supply 2.5 MGD safe drinking water, while the storage capacity of Swad dam was 46000 acre-feet , which would supply 5 MGD water to the residents of the old city, he added.

According to a source in the planning and development department of Balochistan, a desalination plant has been established with the assistance and funds of the Chinese government having the capacity to purify 1.2 million gallons of seawater per day to provide clean drinking water to the masses. The project has cost Rs 2 billion.

Meanwhile, Pak-China Friendship Hospital was also being established over 68 acres of land which would be equipped with modern medical facilities, he said.

All major projects under CPEC in Gwadar, including Gwadar Power Plant, Distribution of 2000 Boat engines to fishermen of Gwadar, Khuzdar-Panjgur Transmission line (via Nag-Basima) connecting Markran with National Grid, New Gwadar International Airport Project, the China-Pak Friendship Hospital, China-Pak Technical and Vocational Institute in Gwadar, the Gwadar East-bay Expressway Project, Gwadar Free Zone, and Gwadar Port would become shining pearls in the region.

He informed that the provincial government had declared Gwadar district a tax-free zone in a bid to attract investment. The district had been exempted from all provincial taxes including excise, services and transfer of property.

The government was making serious efforts to frame the master plan of the coastal belt as the province possessed a plethora of tourist attractions along the 750-kilometer-long coastal belt.

Construction work on eco-tourism resorts, beach parks, floating jetties and rest areas was in full swing with allied facilities to cater the needs of local and foreign tourists visiting these beautiful coastal lines.

Moreover, the government has posted 215 lifeguards to facilitate the tourists and provide protection to them.

Talking to APP, an official of the GDA said work on the renovation of old buildings and archaeological sites had started to preserve the ancient civilization and history of Gwadar.

“Under the plan, dilapidated buildings will be restored for tourists to recall the history, culture and heritage of the port city”, he added.

He said Gwadar had a lot of potential to generate tourism opportunities, and there was a dire need to have a constructive approach to exploring the hidden beauty of the city.

It is evident that Gwadar enjoys a great potential to catalyze regional connectivity, benefiting not only China and Pakistan but also adjacent nations such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asian states.

The region’s untapped potential, brimming with natural resources will not only bring about positive change in the lives of the local population but open a gateway of prosperity for the whole country.

APP/ask-umr/ati (APP Feature Service)

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