Outstanding escort of Sukkur-Multan life line: Zahid Grewal
A wide two-way six-lane expressway is full of fast traffic in Pakistan. Running north-south, it’s part of the largest transport infrastructure project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative. With a total length of 392 kilometers, M5 connects Sukkur in Sindh province and Multan, the economic center of Punjab province.
32-year experience in security affairs
"In March 2016, I was appointed as Security Consultant for the Sukkur-Multan motorway project and was assigned the most challenging task of arranging foolproof security for the complete project. It's a linear project with hundreds of working sites, covering 21 Chinese residential camps, 23 Pakistani workers camps, number of technical camps and thousands of pieces of expensive machinery and equipment. Security arrangements are complex and challenging," Zahid Grewal told Gwadar Pro.
As a senior Security Consultant at China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), Zahid said proudly, "It was an uphill challenging task but the potential and capacity of CSCEC, coupled with my rich experience of dealing with security matters for 32 years in Pakistani army paid its dividend."
The project spans a wide area, so it is urgent to establish an effective security management system at its initial stage. Faced with numerous difficulties and pressures, Zahid quickly sorted out his ideas and started with the construction of the project camp, giving priority to solving the problem of personnel placement. He finally assisted the project in building 21 camps integrating civil defense, physical defense and technical defense.
Road is a life line
"Road is a life line and this phrase has truly been proven in case of Sukkur-Multan Motorway. It was a greenfield project passing through rural areas and relatively under develop areas of Pakistan. The project provided jobs directly to nearly 30,000 Pakistani people at peak time," Zahid said.
"Living standards of the people all along 392 kilometers have been uplifted a lot. Outlook of the area has been uplifted and lot of economic activity has been generated in the area. With respect to me, I have gained rich experience of managing all aspects of a mega project," he added.
Access for agricultural products
Multan is Pakistan's main production area for cash crops such as mangoes and dates, while Sukkur is an important transportation hub. From July, there is sweet aroma in the air. After simple processing, fresh, high-quality mangoes will be trucked out and delivered across Pakistan in just a few hours, or even exported overseas.
A few years ago, however, it often took dozens of hours to transport mangoes from villages to urban areas, and then to Sukkur for further processing and sales. In particular, the roads are in poor condition, and the villagers are often frustrated with the loss of fresh fruit due to long-distance transportation.
"In December 2019, M5 was officially handed over and open to traffic, enabling the village to connect the outside world more quickly and smoothly. The completion of the project shortened the traffic time between Sukkur and Multan by 4 to 5 hours and reduced the distance by nearly 100 kilometers. Now, farmers can speedily move their goods from villages to towns and big cities," Zahid said.
When asked how he felt about working on the project, Zahid said, "sometimes it's not possible to truly express one's feeling in words, but still I will try. CSCEC is not just a company, but a big family, where everyone uses their professional skills, works together, cares for and respects each other."
In the written interview, Zahid listed the people who gave him professional guidance and help during his work on the project. "I would call them lovely and great people. It would take hours to list all their names. My message to all of them is that it was a great honor to know and work with you all, I miss you all."
"It is challenging to maintain the project time line. It was to be ensured that at no stage project work speed should slowdown due to shortage of security manpower and work needs to continue as per plan. I'm proud to see the project completed successfully ahead of schedule without any security lapse," Zahid told Gwadar Pro.
"This project is the lynchpin of BRI and hallmark of China-Pakistan friendship. The experience of working with a professional multinational company on such a mega project was of great benefit for me. Now I have complete knowledge of dynamics of a mega project and consider myself fully experienced to handle any such mega projects. I also learned Chinese culture, Chinese style of working and the way they ensure timely completion of the tasks," Zahid added.