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Gwadar and CPEC development work speed up

KARACHI: Work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor continues unabated even during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, several CPEC projects for Gwadar Port City have been completed ahead of time. On a recent visit to Gwadar, besides meeting with members of Gwadar Business Club from cities across the country, a group of journalists had a detailed discussion with the Chairman of China Overseas Port Handling Company, Zhang Baozhong. The meeting was arranged by Mahmood Ahmad Khan, Senior Executive Member, Gwadar Business Club.

Outlining his green employment plan, Zhang Baozhong said the Gwadar Port and CPEC projects will not only benefit Pakistan and China but also other regional countries, including the landlocked Central Asian States as well.

He said this project will also play an important role in establishing peace in Afghanistan. Delivery of goods via Gwadar Port to Afghanistan has already started, and so far thousands of metric tonnes of fertilizer have been sent to Afghanistan, he stated.

The first consignment of sugar arriving at Gwadar port is interestingly being delivered to Afghanistan as well, Baozhong said.

The chairman of China Overseas Port Handling Company said that the port and CPEC will not only facilitate Pakistan and Afghanistan but will also provide employment to thousands of people from these countries, especially in the transport sector.

He said that USD500 million have so far been spent on the development of Gwadar Port, which is geographically the most important area of the region. He said that supplementary CPEC projects including International Airport Gwadar, Pak-China Friendship Hospital, Pak-China Skill Development Institute, 300 MW Coal Power Plant and Desalination Plant will be completed with financial assistance from China.

The Chinese industrialists are eyeing 60 percent of Pakistan’s young, energetic and strong workforce and want to take advantage of it. According to Baozheng, Chinese industrialists are also keen on setting up industrial units here that could provide employment to thousands of young people. The transportation cost via Gwadar will be low due to its central location and short distance to the markets of different countries, he added.

In phase two, the speed of industrialization in Gwadar and along the CPEC route will further increase, with special focus on petrochemical, cement, mobile processing, steel, edible oil and home accessories, Zhang Baozheng said.

As of now 43 Chinese companies are registered in Gwadar and another 200 are in the pipeline. Establishing industries with the help of investors from other countries, including China and Pakistan, will be a great source of employment for thousands of youth in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan, he added.