Master plan is ready
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
July 07 - 13, 2003
The rise and fall in the value of the real estate is always associated with the overall growth of the economies. These conditions are taken as the indicators of the general state of the economy. If it is taken as a true, one can say without any fear of contradiction that the economic growth is shooting up in the newly conceived port city of Gwadar in Balochistan. Despite an embargo on transfer, registration of land, there is a mad rush for acquiring land as every second visitor coming to Gwadar has an ambition to have land in the future port city. Taking advantage of the situation, even the employees engaged with various organizations have become land brokers offering land to every visitor.
Realizing the situation, the provincial government has announced that an Ordinance regarding establishment of Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) would be announced in a week's time.
In fact, the international publicity and overall development of Gwadar which, includes a deep sea port, free trade zones, export processing zone and industrial zones, fish harbor and a network for rail, road and air communication, has proved a windfall for the land holders in that city.
So far neglected, the vast strips of barren lands are now being sold like hot cakes at the asking price. This trend has changed the fate of the land holders as the price of land has jumped from thousands of rupees into millions of rupees overnight. Some builders and developers from Karachi have also announced some housing and commercial projections in collaboration with some local investors. The experts, however, are of the view that the current rush for sale and purchase of land is not a genuine indicator for investment in that port city. Actually, it is a "Satta" business which usually take place before the arrival of the real development.
Although the provincial government has put an embargo on the sale and purchase of the land and there is transfer of registry being taking place, yet the acquisition of land on back dated papers is still going on. According to Jam Yousuf, Chief Minister Balochistan, the embargo on sale/purchase of the land has been imposed in the interest of genuine people of trade and industry and to discourage the land brokers. The draft bill for establishment of Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) has already been prepared and an Ordinance in this respect would be issued with a couple of days.
Since most of the land in Gwadar is in the lands of private owners, immediate land acquisition is started in order to carryout land development for residential, industrial and other uses without encountering delays due to legal process. To ensure land development and urban growth programs beyond 2010, the total or major of the area required for the period 2010-2050 should be acquired to carry out following objectives:
1. Urban growth could be channelized in the desired direction through land development and sale by public agencies.
2. Land is available for development when required in areas and locations needed to be developed.
3. Action which would forestall the implementation of the urban growth and cause bottlenecks, would be preempted, and
4. Collateral would be available against which finances could be raised from commercial sources for the land development projects/ programs.
THE MAN WHO MARKETED GWADAR
No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come. It proves true in case of the idea originally floated by Sheikh Javaid for development of a port city at Gwadar in early 80s. Today that idea has been transformed into a reality and a port city of international economic significance is coming up on the surface in Gwadar.
Sheikh Javiad, Chairman of Gawadar Investors Council (GIC) is actually the man who marketed Gwadar both at home and abroad. Through his untiring efforts over the years he seems to have succeeded in selling his idea for the development of Gwadar as a deep sea port. Irrespective to the fact whether he received due recognition for his efforts from his contemporary businessmen or the government circles, the fact remains that his dream appears to be very close to the reality.
As a part of his struggle, Sheikh Javaid visited Macedonia to present his paper on Gwadar before the World Free Zone Convention. His presentation on Gwadar, at Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, and part of former state of Yugoslavia was widely covered by International media. He invariably succeeded in attracting the attention of the international investors at that international forum. Construction of a new port and arouse the interest of the investors both at home and from abroad is of course an uphill task. The present government certainly deserves all marks for bringing the idea of a third deep sea port to the reality and hopefully, the entire nation would be enjoy the far reaching economic results of this unique project in this region.
President Gen Pervez Musharraf during his recent visit to the US and the EU has rightly described Gwadar to play a pivotal role of a transit port in the region especially for the Central Asian Republics.
Sheikh Javaid, who is also the Chairman, FPCCI's standing committee on Export Processing Zones, is of the opinion that in order to harvest a rich crop of the available potentials, priority should be given to the Coastal areas of Mekran for setting up of Free Zones at Gwadar as well as Ormara on the Coast of Mekran.
The projection of Gwadar and its deep water port by Javaid at international fora and within country has resulted in a mad rush of local and foreign investors who are desperately looking for a suitable land for their respective projects at Gwadar.
The growing interest of the investors in Gwadar is reflected in the unprecedented increase in air traffic to Gwadar. There is a tremendous growth in the rate of sea occupancy for Gwadar flights reflected in the long queues of waiting passengers for Gwadar. Today, to have a confirm seat for Gwadar, one has to wait at least for a week. According to informed sources, so far over 25 foreign missions have shown their interest to acquire land for setting up of their consulates in future port city.
It, however, gives a bad taste to the visitors when the PIA officials fail to comply with the confirm seats to the returning passengers from Gwadar. They have simple reason for non-compliance of the confirm seats that they are still working manually in the absence of automation at their end. It is surprising that why PIA cannot set up computerized booking system at the other end of Gwadar to avoid uncalled for hardships for the passengers. Such irritants should be nib in the bud which helps creating a bad image of the facilities in the mind of the visiting investors.
Sheikh Javaid feels that if every thing goes well according to plans, Gwadar will emerge as one of the most important trading hubs of the region in not a distant time. Gwadar promises a prosperous Balochistan as well as the whole country. The new port city has the capacity to cater to the requirement of the stakeholders in the region. Gwadar can play a vital role as a bridge between land-locked Central Asian States and Far and South Asia. An alliance in this direction could create an environment conducive to achieving socio-economic understanding among respective countries.
However, ideas must work through the brains and the arms of good and brave men, or they are no better than dreams.
Gwadar is going to be the land of opportunities provided it was safeguarded from the hands of opportunists. The elements of vested interests are always out to grab opportunities for personal gains. The failure of highly rich projects like KEPZ and Gadoon Amazi at the hands of inefficient and incapable people is the glaring examples. In order to avoid repeat of that story genuine people like Sheikh Javaid with clean hands and having relevant past experience to their credit should be invested responsibilities in different development authorities, committees and the task force etc.
The government of Pakistan had initiated the construction of country's third deep sea port with financial and technical assistance of China on March 23, 2002. The development process of the project is going on according to schedule. The completion of the project will not only give stimulus to the development activities in Gwadar town itself but with the completion of another ongoing project of Mekran Coastal Highway, act as further catalyst for development of the entire Mekran Coastal area of Balochistan.
The existing Gwadar town is confined to the area of around 500-hectares near the newly established Fish Harbor on a narrow strip between the East and West Bays. The existing land use pattern shows a mixed land use of pre-industrial era. Geographically, it has unique features comprising of a rocky outcrop in the south known as headland joined to the mainland towards north by a narrow sandspit (neck) which is 800m in width at the maximum point. The existing town is located on this sandspit.
According to the 1998 population Census, the population with the municipal limits was 43,850 in 7,550 dwelling units. The corresponding population figures in 1981 Census was 17,000. The average annual growth rate of population in 1981-1998 Census is 5.89 per cent and average household size in 1998 was 6 persons.
The main developments that have taken place latterly are:
•The new township Housing Scheme initiated in 1986.
•The Sangar Housing Scheme on the headland initiated in 1992 by the local administration.
•Gwadar Fish Harbor/ Mini port completed in 1992.
Akra Kaur Dam for augmenting water supply to town and adjacent villages, completed in 1993.
Feasibility Studies and Design work for the Gwadar Deep Sea Port were carried out in the early nineties but due to financial constraints no headway was made for actually initiating work on site. Based on the revised PC-1 approved in June 2001, the construction work is in progress since March 2002. Phase 1 involves construction of three mumlti-purpose berths (600 meter long, 200 meter each) to accommodate ships up to 50,000 DWT.
Phase-II of the project involves construction of two container berths, bulk cargo terminal, grain terminal, roll on/roll off terminal, two oil piers and future expansion of two berths.
Establishment of Free Zones, General industrial areas, oil, gas and petrochemical development and new residential areas are the part of the master plan.
Another potential area of development of Gwadar is the tourism sector. There is great opportunity to develop tourism sector in Gwadar due to its nearness to the Gulf, availability of large open spaces, beautiful pristine beaches, abundant sea life, liberal forward looking population etc. It is ideally placed to develop the tourism infrastructure, superstructure and entertainment. Besides providing recreation facilities to the local population, exclusive self-sustaining tourism resort had been proposed for foreign tourists on the West Bay including a marina. In view of inadequate health, education and sports facilities, new facilities have been proposed based on national standards on the population, space requirement criteria.
At present, the local road network is limited. There is no public transport system and motor vehicular traffic comprises of motor cycles, pickups, vans, taxis. The movement of jeeps/pickups to and from Iran loaded with goods for two ways trade is quite frequent.
The inter city bus service is also operational with air-conditioned bus service to Karachi and other towns in Balochistan. To bring Gwadar into national mainstream, 653 km long Mekran Coastal Highway is in advanced stage of implementation. It will link Gwadar with Pasni, Ormara and Karachi. Another regional linkage is the Gwadar Ratto-Dero motorway linking it with Indus Highway through Turbat, Awaran and Khuzdar. A rail link is also planned to connect Gwadar to Quetta and Zahidan through Quetta-Taftan-Zahidan section. Also in this context the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is also upgrading the existing runway from 5000 feet to 15000 feet for operation of wide bodied aircraft. The present short runway is suitable only for Fokker planes. The PTCL nationwide direct dialing system includes facilities of a digital telephone exchange and Internet facility at the under developing port city.
The development of an integrated transport system will be an essential element of the development of Gwadar. A transport hierarchy provides a physical structure to the urban area and has a significant impact on land use patterns.
In order to meet this important target, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has already offered a package of $300 million for construction of regional linkages like Mekran Coastal Highway, Gwadar-Ratto Dero Motorway, future rail and road links to Central Asian States and rest of Pakistan.
In the power sector, a small thermal power station is already operational at Gwadar which is meeting the present demand of 4 MW. In anticipation of future load requirement a grid station is under construction and 132 kV transmission line from Pasni/Turbat is being extended to Gwadar to meet the future demand for electricity. In the short run, a new power station is also being planned for local demand. Eventually, Gwadar will be linked to the national grid as soon as the demand grows for power consumption.
Future load requirements have been worked out on the basis of population growth average till the year 2050 as under:
Year 2010 — 14 Megawatt (MW)
Year 2030 — 74 MW
Year 2050 — 370 MW
These projected estimated are however most likely to be revised in near future as the demand for power consumption should be estimated on the basis of the economic growth of the planned city. The trade and business community sees that the new port city has tremendous potential of economic growth which may disprove all estimates for development of infrastructure network especially the preliminary power generation estimates.
Earlier, Gwadar used to face acute shortage of drinking water till 1993 when Akra Kaur Dam was constructed. The estimated design water storage capacity of dam was about 12.4 Million Cubic Meters (MCM) whereas present supply is 1.3 MGD. Out of these 700,000 gallons of treated water is being supplied to Gwadar town. Public Health Engineering Department, government of Balochistan is responsible for providing and maintaining, transmission and distribution system. They maintain a well equipped laboratory at dam site in order to ensure water quality standards.
In order to cater to the future demand projections, based on short term (up to year 2010) medium term (up to year 2030) and long term up to year 2050, both for potable as well as raw water have been made. These are 13.86 MGD, 30.08 MGD and 108.39 MGD of potable quality and 16.37, and 31.87 MGD of raw water respectively. As such public Health Engineering Department has requested water apportionment of 23 MGD from main conduit of proposed Mirani Dam. Besides construction of dams on Basol, Sawar Kaur, Belar and Talar dams have also been proposed to meet future demand for water. While decision for construction of Mirani Dam has already been taken, studies have to be initiated for feasibility and detailed studies of the above alternative water sources. Desalination is another option for water which should considered later on. The major constraint in this option is cost of desalination, which presently may not be compatible with the conventional water sources. This technology of sea water desalination has, however, advanced latterly and its cost has also decreased drastically. Various processes for treatment of sea water such as desalination, solar distillation, distillation as well as reverse osmosis are available; the detailed modalities of its selection will be dealt with as and when required.
Besides, as Gwadar is being developed as a deep sea port having various zones, desalination can be an option for industrial users as they may be able to bear its cost.
In order to chalk out future strategies to growth, the understanding of the existing situation and physical setting is highly important. The built and the natural environment are strongly linked and the relationship between the two requires careful consideration. The landscape of Gwadar displays the characteristics of semi-arid dry plain and low hills. In this context the headland and Koh-e-Mehdi provide a combination of impressive landscape. The climate conditions are typical of those found on the Mekran Coastal plain. Hot and humid conditions prevail for most of the year.
Ecology of Gwadar Region can be classified as semi arid coastal environment. The coastal area is known to be an important breeding ground for turtles. The ecology of East Bay will be more directly affected by the port development which requires action to conserve habitats along the West Bay. Hence, minimum coastal protection zone of 500 meters may help to provide a good level of protection.
The master plan has been developed to provide a structure to enable the integrated development of the port and town.
The overall form of the urban area is constrained by the land available on the sandspit and the headland. These areas have limited opportunities for development in comparison with the mainland. The master plan builds on existing land allocations and the trend for new development to be located to the north of the town towards the airport. However, through the identification of development modules, the master plan attempts to prevent uncontrolled urban sprawl and to provide a clear allocation of land to appropriate locations.
Industrial land has been provided on the principal transport corridors like Mekran coastal Highway, the proposed northern route. These areas are towards the north east part of the town ensuring they do not pollute the urban environment through smoke and effluent. In this context land has been earmarked for EPZ near the airport adjacent to the primary roads. For specialized oil, gas and petrochemical related industries adequate area has been set aside near Sur in the north east portion of the future development. The local boat building industry is consolidated at the present location near the old town on the West Bay.
As far as the existing old town is concerned, the consultants are of the considered view that its entire resettlement may be highly unpopular amongst the residents and will entail a huge cost of around Rs7.4 billion as per an initial estimate. It is suggested that a gradual shifting as and when the land is needed for port operations should be adopted.
Despite having vast lands with huge natural resources, Balochistan is the least developed province of Pakistan as compared to other provinces of the country. Over 80 per cent of the area rich in mineral resources said to be under force majeure due to traditional tribal system. Consequently, the living standard of the masses is not at par with the rest of the country. Generally speaking, people who hail from Mekran coastal areas are happy with the development of Gwadar as a deep sea port and are attaching high hopes for economic prosperity for the local people. They are also of the view that economic independence for the people will bring a new culture in Balochistan which may bring a revolution in health, education, social and economic standards for the poverty ridden masses of that province.