THE DEVELOPMENT OF GWADAR
On completion, it will emerge as the third largest seaport in Pakistan
From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
Oct 18 - 24, 2004
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has directed the Gwadar Port Authority and the Director General Gwadar Development Authority to complete the first phase of the construction of the port and make it operational by January 2005. He directed the heads of the two agencies to work in close cooperation and ensure that the target given to them is achieved within the stipulated time.
Prime Minister gave these firm instructions after a briefing on the progress of the work on the project and the supporting facilities being developed. Prime Minister said that he was keen to see the port operative by January 2005 and inaugurated by a dignitary from China. He described the port as a project of national importance as the opening of port would enhance linkage of the country with Afghanistan, Central Asian States and the Gulf States. The port will accelerate the economic activity in the region besides boosting Balochistan economy.
The Prime Minister's keen desire to see the Gwadar port in operation within the next three months undoubtedly underlines the important need to accelerate the pace of development specially in Balochistan which was so far neglected by the previous governments. Moreover, as he himself referred to Gwadar port as a project of national importance considering its geographical location — the nearest seaport from Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics and not very from the countries in the Gulf region, its completion is expected to open new vistas of regional trade and economic cooperation. That would, of course, serve as a springboard for initiating multifarious development activities in an otherwise underdeveloped province of the country.
The Prime Minister also directed the Gwadar Development Authority to start planning establishment of a zone for the promotion of small and medium industries under the auspices of SMEDA alongwith opening of the branches of banks and DFIs for making available loans for financing to the intending entrepreneurs. The Prime Minister also wanted the civil aviation authorities to identify a suitable area within the precincts of Gwadar for starting air service between Gwadar port and other countries. It appears that these essential aspects of development planning were not so far given high priority and the Prime Minister's emphasis may now fill an important gap in the planning.
A 350-bed hospital is under construction and two separate schools for boys and girls are coming up in Gwadar port area, indicating that the work on socio economic projects is moving apace. A desalination plant is being set up by the Chinese companies which are associated with the construction of the Gwadar port, while a fishing jetty would serve to promote development of fisheries. A colony for housing fishermen is also said to be under construction. The overall progress appears to be fairly satisfactory and therefore the Prime Minister's target to inaugurate the operation of Gwadar port by January next looks to be well withing reach. This will be a remarkable achievement by the Chinese companies. The addition of a new deep-sea port on Pakistan's coastline would mark a new chapter of development efforts in the country.
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). 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 berth, (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 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 berths for vessels of up to 200,000 DWT.
The latest position on progress is that dredging is 87 percent completed, revetments 100 percent completed, quay wall 100 percent completed, transit shed 100 percent completed, loading marks (two) 90 percent and 100 percent completed, installation of cranes machinery, etc., not started yet, vessels and crafts are under construction in China, and civil works approximately 15 percent completed.
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.
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.