GWADAR: ATTRACTING INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS

Gwadar carries the potential to be the hub of major economic and commercial activities

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
May 26 - June 01, 2003

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.

ROADS

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 Pakistan.

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 Asian Republics.

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 standards.

The IDB was approached to consider financing of road projects, including the Indus Highway and Ratodero-Khuzdar-Awaran Project.

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. road.

Out of the total length, 810km stretch has already been rebuilt and improved. Remaining 450km of road needs improvement.

AIRPORT

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.