Second phase of CPEC to start with full deliberation: Asim Bajwa

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Our Correspondent

Taxila

Chairman China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Lieutenant General (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Thursday that the second phase of CPEC is ready to commence with “full deliberation and conscience transparency”.
Addressing a signing ceremony between the CPEC Authority and Chinese companies in Taxila, Chairman Bajwa said that there will be completely revamping of the railway structure of Pakistan during the second phase of the project.
“A new fully fenced railway track from Peshawar to Karachi of over 1,800 kilometres [would be laid], a dry port at Havelian and a new transmission system would also be built,” the chairman said. “All railway crossings will be replaced by underpasses and overhead bridges.”
He added that efficiency and speed of railways would increase and revamped to make it profitable for Pakistan – approval for which was given last week.
“We are talking about creating special economic zones in each province, mass industrialisation, relocation of industries from China,” he said. “The first three preferred zones have already been identified and we are very close to signing development agreements in KP and also progressing in Dhabeji.”
The chairman also said that the Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) would play an important role in the second phase as it would contribute to import substitution and reduce import of machinery. “I request all the companies who are putting-up industries in special economic zones to talk to HMC and place their orders and get their machinery configured or re-configured as per their demands,” the chairman stressed.
The SEC, he elaborated, aims to provide employment to the youth of Pakistan.
“This is why the programme is already in the works to revamp our technical institutes so that we can bring the human recourse to full requirement of industrialisation in Pakistan,” he added
He urged further urged the HMC to go into large scale manufacturing of heavy agricultural machinery as Pakistan is looking forward towards mechanisation of agriculture, water conservation and smart management of the farms. “CPEC is becoming a fast reality,” he said, “Even Covid-19 has not been able to hamper the progress that we want to make.”
Bajwa further said that eight energy projects have been completed and nine are currently under construction. “If you just look at phase 1, we had an investment of about $12.5b in CPEC,” he said.
The chairman added that while going into the second phase, the direction of reducing the burden of loans on the country is very clear
“Rather than going into business to business cooperation with the Chinese firms, we are looking at foreign direct investment, we are looking towards entrepreneurs coming to Pakistan and partnering with Pakistani business,” he said.
He said that it is time for optimism and hope as the organisations have taken lead and a lot of activity under the banner of CPEC in the coming days will be seen, Bajwa added.“We know there are detractors, we know there are people who keep throwing spanners trying to spin that CPEC has been relegated or has slowed down,” Chairman Bajwa said. “There is a lot of work that has gone into the project over the last few months and you will see the projects on the ground in the coming days .”