For quite some time the government has been examining a feasibility to lease out the fast upcoming deep sea Gwadar Port


Aug 30 - Sep 05, 2004

The meeting in the Planning Commission to discuss and analyse the merit and demerits of the proposal to lease out the control and operation of multi-million dollar Gwadar Port to a foreign company has been postponed indefinitely. Sources confided to this correspondent that it has been done in view of the present disturbed conditions in Balochistan province.

For quite some time the government has been examining a feasibility to lease out the fast upcoming deep sea Gwadar Port to one of the many aspiring foreign companies. During a presentation to the President General Pervez Musharraf made by the Governor of Balochistan and the Federal Communication Secretary on the projects relating to the development of Gwadar port and Gwadar city in March at Rawalpindi, it was decided that the feasibility for leasing out the port to a foreign company may be examined. The Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Dr. Akram Shaikh was assigned the task who had called a meeting in his office on August 17, which was to be attended by all the relevant authorities. The meeting was however, postponed indefinitely without giving any reason. It was felt that time was not appropriate for taking such a decision.

According to the working paper of the meeting, the relevant authorities were required to brief the meeting on the following issues.

1) Decision made in the presentation to the President in March:

What is the latest progress on implementation of these decisions? When will the port be made functional?

2) Gwadar has been declared a free economic zone:

What is the progress on the implementation of this decision, the studies carried out, the manuals prepared, etc., when will this job be completed? The latest position of the handing over of the land by the Balochistan government and what is being done about it?

3) The latest position of the access roads:

The option and when will it be completed? Has it been done, if not what is the timeframe? The latest position in respect of the proposed industrial complex. Any studies carried out, any procedure defined? The latest position of access to hinterland. It is apparent that the port will be completed in July 2005, but the access roads will be completed in 2009. How will the cargo be carried from the port?

Staff required be recruiting and training immediately and the port manuals and systems developed. What is the progress? When will the accommodation be completed for the port operation staff? The latest position of the detailed master plan. When will it be completed?

The project for expansion of Gwadar airport for A-300 Airbus operations was approved two year ago. There is an Omani grant of Rs. 150 million lined up. What is the latest position? What is the position of the plans of telecom facilities and power to Gwadar? What is the clear-out demarcation of the authority of Gwadar Port Implementation Authority (GPIA) and provincial Gwadar Development Authority (GDA)?

The working paper, the Gwadar deep-sea was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Committee (ECNEC) in February 2002 at a cost of Rs. 14,905 (FEC: Rs 8674.0 million). It was stipulated that the work on the project will be completed in two phases. Phase-I of the project started in March 2002 and is likely to be completed by July 2005. It includes three multi-purposed berths (quay length 602 metres), one service birth, (100 metre), 4,35-kilometre navigational channel (11.6/2.5 metre deep), roads, plinths and transit shed, operational craft and equipment including navigational aids, shore-based port buildings and allied facilities.

The port would be capable to handle ships of 30,000 DWT bulk carriers and 25,000 DWT container vessels. Phase-I will cost 248 million dollars (Chinese pledge 198 million dollars, Pakistan will provide 50 million dollars). Main port, infrastructure, equipment and craft, etc. was designed by the Chinese consultants and is presently being constructed by Corporation (CHEC).

The phase-II will be completed at a cost of 524 million dollars. Infrastructure, which includes road and rail links and power, will cost 391 million dollars. The phase-II of the project will be implemented under the "Build-Own-Transfer (BOT)" basis. The phase-II of the project will comprise 10 additional berths, including three dedicated container terminals, one bulk/grain terminal with capacity of handling vessels up to 100,00 DWT and two oil births for vessels of up to 200,000 DWT.

At the March presentation, the following decisions were taken:

The master plan presented by the Governor of Balochistan was approved.

Unplanned/unauthorized construction (without any exception) not to be allowed in the master plan area. The families displaced by the master plan be shifted in a phased programme over a period of three years. The Chief Minister/Chief Secretary of Balochistan to give total back up support to the Gwadar Port Implementation Authority (GPIA). Government of Balochistan to expedite work on provincial highway from Hoshab-Sorab, which is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister to get maximum resources related to the GDA, GPA and GPIA. Establishment of policy board for development of Gwadar, in place of Gwadar Implementation Committee (GIC) be expedited. Work on road linkages with Afghanistan be expedited. Work on road from Kalat to Chaman and Gwadar to Hoshab be expedited. Priority be accorded to road linking Gwadar with Rato Dero and Indus Highway. The depth of channel be taken to 14.5 metres to attract mother ships and gantry cranes to be installed for container handling.

Gwadar deep-sea port under construction some 600 km by land west of Karachi on the Mekran coast of Balochistan, by the Chinese and expected to be ready for operation by early 2005 to handle international shipping, is a mega project. It is expected that with the completion of the first phase of deep-sea port would be able to handle annually about two million tons of cargo comprising containers (100,000 TEU's) general cargo, bulk cargo and ro-ro cargo, i.e. vehicles and wheeled cargo whose loading into and unloading from the ship is through driving instead of lifting on and lifting off by cranes.

To put the port performance in perspective, this may be compared with the KPT's 30 general purpose berths and three bulk liquid, heavy-duty terminals handling almost same cargo volume as 30 general purpose berths altogether achieving annual throughput around 25 million tons of imports and exports; and 10 heavy-duty berths at Port Qasim presently doing 15 to 16 million tons annually.

On completion, Gwadar seaport will emerge as the third largest seaport in Pakistan after Karachi and Port Qasim. The port will reinforce Pakistan's economic development and rapidly transform Makran belt (Balochistan) into an important industrial and trade center.

Gwadar deep seaport can easily be linked to China, landlocked Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics by connecting it with the Indus Highway at Ratodero. Work on highway, which would link Karachi with Gwadar, is also progressing rapidly and according to schedule, and should be completed by the end of 2004.

These projects, coupled with the on-going project of Fish Harbour for which a further allocation of Rs. 12 million has been made in the budget, will go a long way in opening up the Makran belt for all round economic development.

Construction of Gwadar deep-sea free port and establishment of export processing zones and free trade areas, aimed at maximizing the potential of the Gwadar Port, augurs well for the development of the western and northern areas of the country. The development of industrial zones in the port area would bring in private investment for the establishment of ancillary industries, apart from the industries spawned by the already existing fish harbour and the mini-port, and thus create tremendous opportunities.

Alongside Pakistan, many other countries will benefit from merging trade and shipping activities. This will result in the opening up of the Makran coast and making Gwadar, which in the local language, means, 'Gate of Air' an economic regional hub and a gateway for import and export of the merchandise of the countries located in the region. According to authorities, on completion, the Gwadar deep seaport project would create new job opportunities for about 3,000 people on the port alone.