5 yrs on, Gwadar heading to a promising 2022
GWADAR, Dec. 31 (China Economic Net) - “I would grow up to become a doctor! I want to travel around the world and show them what we are capable of!” declared Habiba Qadir, a student studying at China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School for 5 years while taking an exclusive interview with China Economic Net.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) reached an important milestone on November 13, 2016 by the starting of the first shipment of trade cargo from Gwadar Port to international destinations.
Five years on, Gwadar Port is heading to 2022 with hope, determination and achievement.
“For those who have visited it before, they do realize that there has been a lot of development here,” pinpointed Naseer Khan Kashani, Chairman of Gwadar Port Authority while reviewing the 5-year-journey of Gwadar Port.
Gwadar Port reaching out to a bigger world
Gwadar has made huge progress when it comes to port operation and port economy.
"According to our plan Gwadar would become the logistic hub in this region within 5 years!" said Zhang Baozhong, Chairman of China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), confidently.
There was no single commercial shipping line connecting Gwadar port for the past 10 years, and the port merely relied on government diverted cargo with huge subsidize road transport, noted Zhang. But things have changed since COPHC took over the port and got infrastructures improved, especially when Afghan transit cargo starting processed through Gwadar port on January 14, 2020. In spite of the negative pandemic impact to business development, more than 100,000 metric tonnes of Afghan cargo have been handled at the port. “LPG ships and bulk cargo vessels can be seen coming frequently,” Zhang told the reporter. All these activities not only generated a lot of business opportunities for Pakistani stevedoring companies, transporters, customer clearance and many others, but also helped stabilize supply to Afghanistan and other landlocked countries in Middle Asia.
Talking about Gwadar Free Zone, the first modern industrial park in Pakistan, Dadaullah Yousuf, Manager of Gwadar Free Zone, said that up to now 46 enterprises have been registered for investment in Free Zone, mainly covering logistic, warehousing, Halal food processing, agriculture, textile, etc.
Right now, Gwadar Free Zone Phase-1 had been successfully completed, while work on the much larger Phase–2 covering an area of 2,221 acres had been started. “More and more investors are showing keen interest in investing in here,” Zhang Baozhong added.
Local community benefiting from port development
The development of economy relies a lot on people, and it also empowers people to lead a better life. Education, first of all, is the foundation.
China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School, donated by China Foundation for Peace and Development (CFPD), has been in operation for 5 years with the sponsorship of COPHC. Now this school is one of the best schools in Gwadar. More than 700 boys and girls are attending school to receive education.
Naseem Ahmad, Descendant of Land Donator and Teacher at China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School, told China Economic Net that after the school has been made the locals got more development programs, and real estate and businesses have increased. “We can say that this school has contributed as the integral part of our area.”
Port economy also boosted local employment.
“Almost 80 percent of our workers are locals,” Muhammad Saleem Butt, Head of Gwadar Port Operations GITL, told China Economic Net.
“Actually almost 90% of our local staff are only capable of, maybe, the watching job when they first came here,” noted Zing, Office Manager of China Business Centre (CBC) in Gwadar, adding that there are not too many schools nor too many technical agencies in Gwadar.
As a big achievement, the construction of China Aid Technical & Vocational Institute of Gwadar Port Project was completed on October 1, 2021. “We teach them from zero. After our training, they can do the technical work and the computer work,” Zing added.
Zaitoon Abdullah, Assistant Manager of Gwadar Garments Factory, told the reporter that the factory, which proposed and established by the Chinese, provide more and more opportunities to Gwadar’s less-educated, unemployed, local females so that they become employed and breadwinners, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporting facilities progressing day by day
A healthy economy depends on healthy people.
China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital, the under-construction hospital, is crucial for the provision of advanced medical services for the locals.
As per Deng Chaoyang, Management Engineer of China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital, with a total construction area of 12,411 square meters, the hospital is expected to receive 900 outpatients every day and it will be equipped with advanced medical equipment after its construction. More importantly, Chinese medical experts will carry out relevant training for local doctors.
What is more, the ecological environment in Gwadar has improved.
The climate of Gwadar, elevated at 0-300 meters above sea level, is drying arid hot. Stepping on Gwadar for the first time, “I thought I was on the Mars,” Zhang Baozhong said.
In 2018, COPHC launched a large-scale tree-planting program, aimed to enhance Gwadar’s afforestation and improve the local’s living environment. They have established a plant tissue culture laboratory and a greenhouse to conduct the research, breed and planting of non-wood forest plants here and try to bring more benefits to the local people.
According to Nie Yuewen, a landscape engineer from Yulin Holdings, now they have built the Henan Agricultural Industrial Park in Gwadar and they are currently breeding seedlings. “Human beings are part of natural ecosystems and depend on them for their survival. We would like to build a green and lively Gwadar,” he told China Economic Net.
Promising future ahead
“I joined Gwadar Port Authority back in March 2019. Things are improving; things are getting better; the city’s emerging,” noted Naseer Khan Kashani.
“Projects such as the Gwadar East-Bay Expressway is going towards completion. It is at 92 % completion at the moment. At this point in time when I joined, it was a 25%. Similarly, Pakistan-China vocational training institute was not even approved when I joined. And now we have completed it way before the completion date. It's emerging in a very silent manner,” he added.
As New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) is still under construction. So, “when the airport becomes functional and international flights start operating, and let’s say, if I want to export lobster, it will reach China the next morning!” said Nagman, President of Gwadar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Owner of Gwadar Fish Factory.