BEIJING: Chairman of Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) Naseer Khan Kashani said on Wednesday that Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan was on the cards which would transform Gwadar into a hub for industrialization, commercial activity and international marine trade.
“I believe that fortunes will trickle down to the grassroots level, uplifting the lives of common people, equipping them with market-oriented skills, unleashing job opportunities, increasing educational and healthcare facilities and make them available for all households,” he said in an interview.
He said the Gwadar Port was an integral part of CPEC and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Located close to the international oil trade and sea shipping lanes at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside of the Strait of Hormuz, it enjoyed a unique geostrategic and geo-economic importance for all BRI countries.
“It provides an outlet for land-locked Central Asian countries, western China and Afghanistan through transit trade and by providing trans-shipment facilities,” he added.
About the significance of the Gwadar Smart City Master Plan, he said that much awaited Gwadar Smart City Master Plan wass at final stage following strenuous planning and insightful review between the China and the Pakistan counterparts.
“It is expected that any rational apprehension by concerned ministries and departments have been figured out and resolved,” he added.
He expressed the hope that the master plan would be unveiled next month if everything moves accordingly. New maps and guidelines for the development of the smart port city had been broken into three timelines: 2025, 2035 and 2050.
“The key focus of the master plan over the next five years is to make available the basic civic necessities of a modern city. It is designed to revamp the economic development triggering socioeconomic activities at the district level and transform Gwadar into a prosperous city,” he added.
“It is likely that Gwadar will be linked with the national grid soon as required modalities have been discussed and finalized to ensure the uninterrupted supply of electricity besides initiating the 300 Mega Watt coal-based power project. Emphasis on land and zoning, road networks, water and sewage lines and security cameras to improve command and control systems has been given priority,” he added.
The Chairman observed that the Gwadar port, the starting point for CPEC, was the cheapest route from China to Central Asian nations. At present, Chinese exports and imports were bound to travel roughly 10,000 km from the Persian Gulf to China’s eastern region. Gwadar ensures a shorter, inexpensive route for shipping oil and gas from the middle East and minerals from Africa.
When asked to comment on impact of Gwadar port on modern trade, he said the Gwadar port was watershed development in the materialization of BRI. It was the genesis of a giant leap that China has envisioned. “If Gwadar works, CPEC will work and if CPEC works, BRI will work.” Kashani pointed out that currently, Pakistan had two main operating international deep-sea ports: the Karachi Port and Port Qasim. During the coming years, their capacity expansion programs were unlikely to keep pace with the expected demand growth.