Zhang Baozhong, Chief Executive Officer of China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) which operates Gwadar Port said that Gwadar-related activities are progressing well as more than $ 250 million has been initially spent on port renovation with more investments in the pipeline.
In addition, new cranes have been added for unloading cargo along with works on the establishment of a business centre, a desalination plant and sewage disposal systems, says a report published by Gwadar Pro on Saturday.
As for the necessity of desalination plants, they are needed to meet the acute scarcity of water and to meet future needs of the locals. Here, annual rainfall is less than four inches.
The cost of desalination plant being built on priority basis by COPHC is Rs 1.95 billion. It will provide 5,000 gallons of water per day to people.
Power supply is another important factor. In this area, the construction of a local 300-mw power, imported-coal-fired plant started some months ago, with the original cost of the project being $ 542 million.
While saying that this port is becoming a node in international shipping, Zhang adds, “Of course, the progress is not very fast but it takes time. By 2030, we believe that Gwadar will be a new economic hub of Pakistan and the highest GDP contributor to Pakistan’s economy.”
At Gwadar, a free trade zone was also established in 2015. Nine companies including a Chinese steelmaker and a Pakistani producer of edible oils, signed up at that time to be followed by 30 more firms that came up for Free Zone’s Phase-1, closer to the site of the new airport.
Zhang, however, says that twice that number of companies applied, including some from Europe.
Economists and analysts in Pakistan are of the considered opinion that once the global and regional economy takes off in new form, these foreign companies will enhance their investments in Gwadar projects besides putting them on a fast track.
Last year, Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan visited Gwadar and broke ground on a new airport site. A new contract was also announced that schools and a hospital will be built in addition to other structures.
The name of the hospital being built by China on 68 acres of land, is Pak-China Friendship Hospital and it would cost $ 100 million.
China is also building Pak-China Technical and Vocational Training Institute in Gwadar at the cost of $ 10 million. It will create job opportunities for the locals. Known for criticism on certain facets of CPEC, Andrew Small, who is also the author of the book ‘The China-Pakistan Axis’, was positive this time about this Pak-China venture, as he says, “the Government of Pakistan is trying to complete about $ 20 billion worth of CPEC projects already in the works, mostly power plants.”