GWADAR DEVELOPMENT BOUND TO CHANGE COUNTRY'S FATE
The Gwadar deep-sea port emerges as a place of great strategic value, enhancing Pakistan's importance in the whole region.
TAHIR A KHAN
Apr 30 - May 13, 2007
The perfect readiness of the long neglected but rich Gwadar is bound to change the fate of Pakistan, provided everything promised and devised goes smoothly. A dream-come-true, Gwadar, a tool to the country's economic progression, has always been an important issue. The importance of Gwadar is that it is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which more than 13 million bbl/d of oil passes. It is strategically placed between three increasingly important regions of the world: the oil-rich Middle East, heavily populated South Asia and the economically emerging and resource-rich Central Asia.
All the way from the beginning to the end, the establishment of Gwadar port will be the key to gate of heaven. The Gwadar deep-sea port emerges as a place of great strategic value, enhancing Pakistan's importance in the whole region, extending from the Persian Gulf through the Indian Ocean to Southeast Asia and the Far East. The Pakistan government has initiated several projects, with majority financial and technical assistance from China, to develop Gwadar's strategic location as a goods transit and trade point. The Gwadar port is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue and create 2 million jobs. Recently the Pakistan government has handed it over to PSA Singapore to execute port operation for next 25 years giving it the status of tax-free port for next 40 years.
The construction of the Gwadar deep-sea port is just one component of a larger development plan which includes building a network of roads connecting Gwadar with the rest of Pakistan, such as the 650 km coastal highway to Karachi and the Gwadar-Turbat road (188 km). This network of roads connects with China through the Indus Highway. Pakistan, China, Kazakhistan, Kyrgizstan and Uzbekistan are developing extensive road and rail links from Central Asia and the Chinese province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea coast. Pakistan and China agreed a year ago to cooperate on energy, including the construction of an oil refinery and a storage facility in Pakistan's coastal areas to help China gain access to oil and gas from Central Asia and the Middle East. China is helping Pakistan build its third port at Gwadar in Balochistan. Pakistan is considering a plan to build a natural gas pipeline from the Arabian Sea to China. Asharq Al-Awsat - leading UAE-based Dhabian Group of Companies will set up a manufacturing unit to produce high quality but cheaper small solar and wind power plants in Gwadar industrial area. Norwegian technology will be used to produce small solar and wind power plants which cost around $ 1000 each. Each plant will generate electricity, sufficient to cater to the requirements of one village at a low cost. The delegation explained in detail their plans to set up "One Stop Shop" for offshore/onshore oil and gas services company at Gwadar, providing all facilities to cater to the needs of the regional countries including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Karzistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, India and China.
Once everything is shaped up to the plan, some of the evident investment opportunities in Gwadar will become known and gain importance such as master plan-related infrastructure i.e. internal roads & services, water and power and communication services for the new township and the industrial zone, private owned ware houses and cold storages, private cargo handling equipment and trucking yards, corporate infrastructure i.e. offices for operating firms & agencies, development of industrial zone and industries, development of commercial/residential areas & buildings, labour-related amenities for thousands of workers employed on developmental work of Great Gwadar, hotels and motels, hospitals, colleges & schools, tourism-related industry, marine-related industry i.e. shipyards, dry dock and repair yards, marine fuel bunkering for visiting ships to include large fuel storages and mobile barges etc., oil refinery and large oil storages. The plan also envisages ferry services between Gwadar-Karachi/Oman/Bunder Abbas and UAE, Industrial Export Processing Zone, Hinterland road; Gwadar-Rattodero Expressway (735 km) passing through Turbat-Awaran-Khuzdar & Shahdad Kot, Gwadar-Quetta (via Turbat-Panjgoor-Kharan-Nushki) road to be widened and improved. This link road will reduce the distance to Quetta from 1090 km to 795 km. Railway: Gwadar-Panjgoor-Dalbadin (515 km), Gwadar-Afghanistan via Quetta by National Highway (N-25).
Besides, some major developments have already taken place or are in the offing. Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), a subsidiary of the WAPDA, has geared up the work for building the power transmission line. A power station of 132 KV is under construction. The new international airport of Gawadar has been planned in the north east of the final master plan of Gawadar. China is planning to set up a dry port near the Pakistan-China border, so that western China could also benefit from the Gawadar seaport and it will create a ribbon of economic activity and hundreds of new jobs along the proposed highway linking Gawadar with the Karakoram highway in the north.
Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) - apex body of the rice exporters in the country - has decided to establish a rice zone in Gawadar to fetch the opportunities in the area after the construction of new port. The establishment of warehouses will provide extraordinary facilities to rice exporters especially for those who export rice to Iran as the Iranian border is only at a distance of three hours from Gawadar. The Saindak Copper Gold project is in progress by producing 12500 tons 'raw copper' daily. MRDL, a Chinese company, is doing the whole work. To ensure successful implementation of the mega project modern machinery, including crushers, smelters and other plants have been installed in addition to a 50 MW powerhouse. 33 km railway line from Taftan to Saindak has also been laid. The Chinese company MRDL has so far invested $25 million (Rs 1.5 billion) on the project. The 1400km-long trans-Afghan gas pipeline (TAP) from Turkmenistan to Gawadar - the long dormant project that hopes to pump Turkmen natural gas to markets in South Asia - is finally poised to step off the drawing board costing $3 billion. The Makran Coastal Highway linking Gwadar with Karachi on a 675-mile stretch is going to be the lifeline of Gawadar project. It is certainly going to attract new townships and settlements of international investors, tourists and workforce coming from distant lands. The Asian Development Bank has also announced financing for road projects, linking Balochistan and Frontier provinces with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) - having a total cost of $500 million. Mirani dam construction is another major endeavor being made to develop water resources in the province.
The WAPDA is working on the Mirani Dam project. Its estimated cost is Rs 7.5 billion. More than Rs15 billion would be spent on this project. It is expected to irrigate 32,000 acres highly fertile and of Dasht plains in the downstream while more than 20,000 acres in the upstream through recharge of hundreds of dead and old Kans (deep wells linked up from the bottom ensuring a greater flow of water for domestic use and farming). Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotels Pakistan appeared as a new star on the horizon at Gwadar, which is an ancient fishing town at the Gwadar's western end along the Makran coast.
Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel Gwadar is the first five-star hotel that opened its doors in the new millennium in Pakistan. Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel at Gwadar was inaugurated by President Pervez Musharraf on March 19 this year. This hotel will be catering to the needs of national and international business and trade community as well as tourists. President Musharraf on this occasion expressed his deep appreciation for Sadruddin Hashwani for his contribution towards the development of human resources not only in Gwadar but in the whole of Balochistan. He called this a momentous achievement by a man who had dared to invest in projects where no other businessman had ventured before. He also commended the project of a filtration plant, which would provide clean drinking water to the people of Gwadar and the foundation of a high quality educational institute, providing education from primary to secondary level. Both projects were initiated by Sadruddin Hashwani.