GWADAR - POST SHIP ARRIVAL SCENARIO
COL (R) FAZAL-E-MAQBOOL AFRIDI,
May 12 - 18, 2008
The long awaited ship carrying 60,000 tons of wheat docked, unloaded and safely sailed out from the Gwadar Port. To many people it is a fairy tale or fiction, as to how the ship docked and how the wheat was transported.
Many people were apprehensive that the ship will not be able to dock, either for want of knowledge of port operations or lack of positive thinking. Though port authorities must have observed and came across a few difficulties during unloading, it is assumed that the next ship will be handled with more care and safety as per international standards. Anyhow, hats off to those who managed all the problems related to docking and port operations.
There were even people who didn't believe the ship had docked at the port, rather their view was that the ship was unloaded in the deep sea. I don't blame the common people for it, as mis-information spreads like fire in our society. I blame the responsible people / government for lack of adequate media coverage (electronic and print). At least it was history that it was the biggest ship that had ever docked at a Pakistani Port. The government should have given coverage for at least a week or so as to quash the rumours and at the same time market it for potential investors, both national as well as international.
The up country transportation of wheat from Gwadar was again a gigantic task as it required thousands of trucks to transport it. It was again a well managed activity. It was delighted to see hundreds of trucks lined up on both sides of the airport road, waiting for their turn. However, it was a pathetic scene that hundreds of drivers were sitting and sleeping on the floor. There was neither a suitable place for trucks to park nor any worth while place for drivers to spend a night. Co-related to transport, it would have been much better if concerned authority had given priority for construction of the express road - port to coastal highway. It is a mystery that 500 km coastal highway and 900 km - M8 (Gwadar - Turbat - Khuzdar - Rato Dero) have been constructed, but construction of 15 km express road has not yet been even started.
The arrival of the ship has boosted business and trade activities at all levels. It was amazing that hotels and motels were full of visitors. There were even rumours that there was a shortage of flour in certain hotels. In case ships start arriving at the Gwadar port, it will generate activities at all levels and all kinds of businesses will flourish. For the outsiders (people) they will require a place to stay ñ so real estate and construction will boom. At the same time locals having shops, hotels, accommodation or any business will flourish due to demand and supply formula.
Arrival of the ship created a ray of hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Every one is expecting the arrival of another ship for which every body is better prepared. At the same time the government is advised to give it wide publicity so that it can be marketed at national and international levels. The more the ships and publicity, the more will be the pace of progress at Gwadar.
There are a few suggestions without prejudice to any body / authority:-
==> The government should ensure and encourage that ships are arriving regularly at the Gwadar Port.
==> The government must give wide publicity to ships arrival so as to attract the investors.
==> The express road must be constructed on priority otherwise there will be traffic congestion in the city.
==> The public / private sector must speed up their developmental work so as to accommodate the human influx and co-related issues.
==> More and proper gas stations be constructed as the Iranian fuel is not suited to the fuel system of our transport.
==> The maintenance of light and heavy transport will require qualified technicians to keep the transport plying on the road.
==> Government should give some concession on custom duties etc to importers & exporters in order to operationalize the Gwadar Port. The concessional flat rate being done in Dubai can also be studied for its efficacy.
==> Our worthy politicians are requested to leave the blame game, resolve the political issues, and concentrate on the other issues pertaining to the common man and gearing up government functions.
==> To say the least everybody should gear up as there will be an opportunity for every one at their door step ñ lucky would be those who realize it and get mentally and physically ready for it.
Arrival of the ships will have a snow ball effect on all business activities whether real estate, transporters, builders, shopkeepers, labours and so on. The government / authority concerned are requested to give due priority to direct ships to Gwadar Port and operationalize it. Moreover, many people thought that the ship will damage the port, or it will not be possible to unload the ship, and that at the same time its transportation up country will take months. But our nation deserves appreciation for the fact that once they get committed, they can do wonders. By the grace of God everything went well. To summarize, it was a test case for our people in general and Gwadar project in particular and they all succeeded having a win win situation.