Chinese and Pakistani authorities take stock of Gwadar progress
As the most important part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and by extension, that of the Belt and Road Initiative, Gwadar holds a special place. The newly emerged port city of Gwadar is a hub of connectivity for the corridor and an indispensable interchange for the initiative. Through its natural deep-sea port and strategic location, Gwadar has helped China and Pakistan realize the goal of a 21st Century Maritime Silk Route, which will benefit not only China and Pakistan but also Central Asia, East Asia, Russia and the whole region of Eurasia, by becoming the region's key entrepôt. After completion of all projects, it will be the hub of commercial activities for the whole region and will completely change the trade pattern globally.
The corridor, however, plans not to limit Gwadar to a connecting port only but enrich it as an economic hub that will cater to the local population by improving their livelihoods. Projects planned for the Gwadar Port City aim at capacitating Balochistan to its full economic, social, technical, and energy potential, and closely integrating it within the economic framework of Pakistan and China.
Several projects are planned for Gwadar, some of them have been completed, while many are under execution and some are in the pipeline, like:
• Gwadar Eastbay Expressway (19 km, connecting Gwadar Port to Mehran Coastal Highway)
• Gwadar New International Airport
• Gwadar Free Zone
• Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan
• Expansion of Multi-purpose Terminal including Breakwater and Dredging
• Gwadar Eastbay Expressway II (19 km, connecting Eastbay Expressway I to New Gwadar International Airport)
• Fresh Water Supply, Wastewater Treatment Plants for Gwadar City
• China-Pakistan Faqeer Primary School Project
• Gwadar Pak-China Friendship Hospital Upgradation
• Gwadar Pak-China Friendship Technical and Vocational College
The Vice-Chairman of China's National Development and Reforms Commission Ning Jizhe, along with Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, accompanied by a delegation of heads of various Chinese companies and Pakistan's Chairman of Senate Sadiq Sabjrani and Pakistan's Federal Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar visited Gwadar on November 4, 2019.
They laid the foundation stone of the 300 MW Coal Power Plant project in Gwadar and also inaugurated the three-story Zubar Commercial complex in the Gwadar Port Authority. The power plant was much needed as the city lacks electricity to meet the requirements of developing Gwadar. The construction of the Zurbar Commercial Complex has been completed with 22 million yuan investment. Sanjrani and Bakhtiar, along with the Chinese delegation, also inspected the projects under construction in the North Free Zone and Expressway along with the Chinese delegation and were given a detailed briefing on the plans. Chinese ambassador handed over 4,000 solar power panels to Pakistani authorities as a gift by the Chinese government. The solar panels provided by the Chinese government will be distributed free of charge to the people of Gwadar. Yao also expanded Pak-China Friendship School.
Ning said the inauguration of a power plant and other projects in Gwadar would improve the access to electricity, education, and commerce for local people. Ning, who is currently on a visit to Pakistan and attended the inauguration of several projects in Gwadar, said the projects are a showcase of the long-standing friendship between the two countries.
Gwadar 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant project, Middle School Expansion Project and Gwadar Port Authority Commercial Complex Project, were inaugurated in Gwadar, which will further promote the implementation of the CPEC.
Addressing a ceremony at the China Business Center, Sanjrani said after the completion of 300 MW coal power plant the issue of power shortage in Makran, including Gwadar, will be permanently eliminated. He added that the Zurbar Commercial Complex was an excellent project. The completion of this commercial complex will provide one-stop shopping facilities at Gwadar Port.
Addressing the ceremony, Khusro said Gwadar is not going to become a trading hub but rather, Gwadar Port will play an important role in effective connectivity for the countries of the region. He said the CPEC is a prime example of the friendship and trust of Pakistan and China that cannot be ignored. He said the development of the region is the first priority of the Pakistani government.
Leaders, senior officials from Pakistan and China and huge number of locals were present at the ceremony. Students of Pak-China Friendship School sang the national anthems of both Pakistan and China and performed a cultural show and welcomed the guests in the traditional manner.
Zamir Ahmed Awan is a sinologist and non-resident fellow at the Center for China and Globalization.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.