(By Yasir Habib Khan);-
Over the last 10 years since CPEC set its foot in 2013, Gwadar outlook is changing gradually and constructively, getting over daunting challenges including poverty, civic issues, water, electricity, employment, infrastructure, agriculture and on top of them blue economy.
In the past Gwadar was in shamble and disarray. Later in the course of 10 years, Gwadar has been making headway toward progress in a sustainable manner. Many development projects have been completed so far including Gwadar Port, Gwadar Free Zone South (Phase I), Eastbay Expressway, Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School, Fiber Optic, E-Custom system (WeBOC), Plant Tissue Culture Lab & Green House, livestock, women-led garment factory, Gwadar University and GDA-Indus Hospital.
On the back of these successes, more than 20 new projects are on the way of completion in 2023 and onward years as per their scheduled timeframes. These projects entail desalination potable water plant, Gwadar Free Zone North (Phase 11), Gwadar Safe City Project, New Gwadar International Airport, three electricity projects, Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, Gwadar Tourism Project, New management model of Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), State of Art Shipyard Project, Oil Refinery project, Green Gwadar Project, Pak-China Friendship Hospital, fisher community projects, Gwadar Port dredging project, Export-oriented projects, Fishing industry, Warehouse industry, and Gwadar Huafa Exhibition and Trading Center.
The city’s strategic location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, coupled with its deep-sea port and modern infrastructure, makes it a hub for trade, transportation, and investment. As a result, Gwadar is expected to attract a significant amount of foreign investment and economic activity in the coming years, emerging as a major contributor to Pakistan’s economic growth.
One of the most significant projects is the 1.2 Million Gallon Per Day (MGD) de-salination plant, expected to be fully operational by April 2023. This plant will provide a reliable source of clean drinking water to the residents of Gwadar.
In 2023, more than 4 lakhs of people of Gwadar are going to get rid of painful power woes as three electricity projects will power up Gwadar. The first project is about 100 MW Irani electricity from Gabd-Remdan (Pak-Iran border) to Jiwani Grid Station to Gwadar that will come on 1st March. The second project is another 100 MW from Iran-Pangjur-Turban-Pasni to Gwadar that is going to be completed in current year. The third project is from Quetta, Nag-Besima section to Pangjur and then Turbat-Pasni to Gwadar. Meanwhile 5 MW power supply will be available to Gwadar Free Zones North (Phase II). If all goes well, in the second step 12 MW power supply will be ensured for Gwadar Free Zone South (phase I) and Gwadar Port in coming months. Finally, the government also approved 300 MW coal-fired power project for Gwadar.
Another major project that is expected to pick more pace in 2023 is the development of the Gwadar Free Zone North (Phase II) spreading over 2,221 acres of land. Currently, export-based Chinese companies are very near building and running their factories in a few months.
The year of 2023 has also brought many fortunes for Gwadar’s fishermen regarding their livelihood to new housing schemes. The Balochistan Government has approved 200 acres of land for new fishermen housing colony for low-income fishmen of Gwadar. Around Rs300 million has been allocated. Around 3,291 poor fishermen of Gwadar are going to get free of cost boat engines as the government has allocated funds of Rs823 million.
The construction of the New Gwadar International Airport with Chinese grant $230 million is all set to start its first test flight from March 2023. Completion is likely in September this year. The airport will have a capacity to handle large aircrafts, making it possible for international flights to land in Gwadar.
The Pak-China Technical & Vocational Institute, which was established in 2021, is expected to bear more fruits in 2023. A signing ceremony for the joint operation agreement of Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), built under CPEC, was recently held. The institute is providing technical and vocational education to the youth of Gwadar, which will help to create a skilled workforce in the region. The Faqeer Colony School of Gwadar is expected to provide improved educational facilities. This school is part of a Chinese-funded initiative aiming at developing a high-quality educational system in the area.
In order to materialize the $4.5 b oil refinery project in Gwadar, five-member delegation of Chinese Company “East Sea Group Limited (ESGL)” visited Gwadar a few weeks ago. Initially, ESGL will install 5 million tons capacity oil refinery in Gwadar. Later ESGL will upgrade it with annual oil processing capacity of 8 million tons in Gwadar.
Other important projects include the construction of a $4.5 billion oil refinery, the dredging of Gwadar port to accommodate large vessels, and the construction of shipyard project to enhance the shipbuilding industry.
In addition to the announcement of the Health Corridor under CPEC, the Chinese government is also supporting the development of the Pak-China Friendship Hospital. The hospital will be erected on 68 acres of land and is excepted to start operations this year. In addition to that, many other health facilities are under construction to serve the local community.
Overall, from 2013 to 2023, Gwadar is undergoing a significant transformation, with a wide range of new infrastructure, facilities, and services in place to support the city’s economic and social development. After the completion of all projects, Gwadar will be positioned as a key economic hub in the region, with the potential to serve as a gateway to the Arabian Sea and the rest of the world.