Gwadar, rapidly surfacing as a new port city at the
Mekran Coast of Pakistan is likely to add new colors to the economic and
social life in Pakistan. Sensing the role, this newly developed port
city is going to play in this region, the international lenders,
investors and developers have started showing their keenness to
participate in the development of this new port city in Balochistan.
The master plan drawn for development of Gwadar port
include the development of a deep-draft sea port, most modern aviation
facilities at Gwadar port, a network of highways providing linkages
between Gwadar and Central Asian Republics with access to all major
cities in Pakistan.
While engineers from China, the most trusted friend
of Pakistan were already busy in the development of Gwadar port, offers
from various international donor agencies as well as investors have
started pouring in.
There is however a word of caution for the people
responsible for the development, this city that the electricity which,
runs like blood in the economic life, should be planned at the lowest
cost. The bitter experience of power purchase agreements with the
Independent Power Producers (IPPs) should not be allowed to reoccur, as
the exorbitant cost currently being paid by the nation has become the
greatest nuisance of the day.
Commenting on the future role of the Gwadar in the
socio-economic life of the country, Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan
Jamali has expressed his confidence that Gwadar will become the world's
most important seaport.
In the next few years, Gwadar will make rapid
advances in all spheres of economic activities. This strategically
significant port city will be the focal point for the domestic as well
as foreign investors.
With the construction of Gwadar deep seaport and
other development projects, there would be lot of job opportunities for
the local people as well. The people of Mekran, Balochistan and rest of
the country will also get jobs. People in Balochistan in general and in
Gwadar in particular are required to be well equipped with training,
education, know-how and skill in various fields so that they could get
advantage of the openings in this future hub of economic activity. In
this respect, the government on its part has decided to establish an
institute of Information Technology in Gwadar with an objective to
impart up-date IT knowledge and training to the local people.
The Prime Minister also announced funds of Rs15
million for electrification of villages around Gwadar.
Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has offered $100
million for construction of roads linking Gwadar Port with Central Asian
Republics (CARs), Afghanistan and major economic centers within
The offer was made in a meeting between a delegation
of IDB and senior officials of the Ministry of Communications.
Pakistan's geo-strategic location has made it the
most attractive place for transit traffic to the land-locked Central
Gwadar Port, scheduled for commissioning in 2005
getting immense attention of the local and international trade for trade
with CARs but also for the development of Pakistan.
Because of its location, Gwadar carries the potential
to be the hub of major economic and commercial activities in the region
in the days not far away. The success of Gwadar Port hinges, apart from
many other aspects, on the linkage of the port with CARs and Afghanistan
besides major urban centers in Pakistan with highways of international
The IDB was approached to consider financing of road
projects, including the Indus Highway and Ratodero-Khuzdar-Awaran
Ratodero-Khuzdar road link would provide a much
faster communication from Gwadar Port to the up-country besides linking
Gwadar with roads to Quetta-Karachi (N-25), Indus Highway (N-55), and
G.T. road (N-5).
The Indus Highway is also very important highway
providing an alternative to N-5 having a total length of 1265km. When it
was developed it will cut the distance by 400km to Karachi and also help
overcoming the traffic hazards by reducing the traffic congestion on G.T.
Out of the total length, 810km stretch has already
been rebuilt and improved. Remaining 450km of road needs improvement.
An international airport equipped with all modern
aviation facilities having capacity to receive wide-bodied aircraft at
Gwadar will be ready by the end of 2004.
Discussion was also held recently on drawing up an
integrated master development plan for the Gwadar port.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says that work on
expansion of Gwadar airport will begin by the end of August this year
and extended facilities would be available for use by end 2004, and
would be operational along with the beginning of the Gwadar seaport
currently under construction.
The facilities provided by the CAA include regular
flights of airbus and provision for their maintenance. The new runway
will also be able to handle landing of wide-bodied 747 aircraft.
The master plan for Gwadar reveals that it will be
based on development of about 45,000 acres that would comprise airport,
industrial zones, export processing zones, beach development, resorts,
housing facilities and all other civic amenities like schools and
hospitals over the next 50 years.