Islamabad May 25, 2022: A two-day media conclave and roundtable conference was told that seven projects worth $1.44 billion were underway in Gawadar, which would usher in a new era of development and prosperity in the area.
The projects included the Eastbay Expressway, which was 98 percent complete; facilities of fresh water treatment, water supply, and distribution, which were 70 percent complete; New Gwadar International Airport; Pak-China Friendship Hospital Gwadar; infrastructure of Gwadar Free Zone Phase-II; a 300 MW coal power plant and a 1.2 million gallons’ desalination plant, Advisor of Maritime Affairs, Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Jawad Akhtar Khokhar told the conference on ‘CSR Initiatives in Gwadar (The Gateway to CPEC)’.
Giving a detailed overview of the development projects in Gwadar under various modalities, he highlighted that there were multiple CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) projects worth $2.1 billion were underway in the area so far.
Three projects worth $314 million had been completed, which included Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, the physical infrastructure of Gwadar Port and Free Zone Phase-1, and Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute, he added, said a press release.
Khokhar said under the short-term strategy, the prioritized projects included the provision of water in three months and electricity in five months for Gwadar, besides the completion of the M-8 motorway.
The Trading Corporation of Pakistan had been authorized to import one-third of cargoes at the Gwadar seaport, he added.
Highlighting long-term strategy, he said the government was aiming to build LNG (liquefied natural gas) and POL (petroleum oil & lubricants) terminals at the Gwadar Port and ensure the availability of electricity, water, and gas to enable phase-2 of expansion of the port.
The two-day media conclave and roundtable conference was co-organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad, and the University of Gwadar in collaboration with COPHC, Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), and Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) in the strategic port town.
The participants appreciated the initiatives taken by the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) and other Chinese firms in Gwadar under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
However, they were of the view that effective development communication and positive engagement with local communities were critical for the effectiveness and long-term success of these projects.
All the stakeholders should devise a mechanism for an integrated socio-economic development strategy and ensure inclusion of the hopes and aspirations of the inhabitants of Gwadar vis-à-vis CPEC, they added.
On the occasion, GPA Chairman Naseer Khan Kashani stressed the importance of bringing the locals together through CSR.
“We must prioritize people over infrastructure development. Drinkable water and electricity are the top priority of the authorities in Gwadar,” he stated.
Kashani said a desalination plant of about 1.2 million gallons would become operational in six to eight months that would provide drinkable water for the locals. Moreover, the newly inaugurated state-of-the-art Pak-China Vocational & Technical Training Institute would provide three years of training to local youth, “which is a big contribution by our Chinese friends”, he added.
“Chinese authorities have also recently provided 3,000 solar panels to the poorest of the poor in Gwadar for the provision of electricity,” he informed the moot.
Delivering the keynote speech, COPHC Chairman Zhang Baozhong spoke at length about the experiences of his seven-year stay in Gwadar. “We are cognizant of the fact that Gwadar deserves more rapid development to live up to the expectations of the local people. There is no denying the fact that it has developed much during the past seven years.”
He stated three reasons for the promising prospects of Gwadar: the cooperation of the Gwadar people, its vast resources, and its strategic location. “The inhabitants of Gwadar deserve respect and development according to their rightful demands”, Baozhong underscored.
“We are sending 20 students to China on scholarships every year. We have been running a primary school here for the last five years and soon we will construct a secondary school as well. More than 6000 solar panel units have been distributed among the people of Gwadar so far, and around 500,000 trees have been planted,” Shahzad Sultan, Country Head Marketing of COPHC informed while providing details of the CSR initiatives.
IPS Chairman Khalid Rahman highlighted the concept of CSR and elements that could improve the lives of the local inhabitants.
“We must have solution-oriented recommendations, not problem-oriented,” he said adding that positive thinking and improvement in governance would bring a huge change in the life of the people of Gwadar.
“CSR activities do not mean spending a share of your profit, it’s about creating an environment which is not harmful to the society in any way,” he added.