New Gwadar airport to be built at cost of $260 million

The Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) yesterday recommended that Frontier Works Organization should be allowed to complete 110km of the Khuzdar-Bassima Highway.

The Parliamentary Committee on CPEC met here under the chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.  The meeting began with a briefing by the chairman of the committee on its recent visit to China. The chairman presented the report on China visit which took place during May 21-27 to the members of the committee.

After hearing detailed arguments, the committee unanimously directed that given the track record of FWO in construction of roads in which difficult terrain of Balochistan as well as security situation in certain parts of Balochistan, where the FWO has already delivered, the 110 km of the Khuzdar-Bassima Highway be completed also by the FWO so that the project gets underway.

The Minister for Port and Shipping as well as the Chairman Gwadar Port Authority and the Secretary of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping gave a comprehensive update and briefing on the development work pertaining to Gwadar Port.

They informed the committee that the Gwadar International Airport was being constructed at a cost of $260 million dollars, which is a grant from the Chinese government and this would be an airport of international standards capable of handling the largest of passenger planes including the A380 Boeing Jet. Additionally, the Chinese government has given a grant of $ 10 million dollars for building the Pakistan-China Vocational & Technical Training Institute which will be helping the local population of Gwadar getting skills and employment. The chairman GPA also informed that the water problem of Gwadar was being sorted out with the construction of Sawad Dam where water would be provided to Gwadar through a 83km pipeline and the water shortage of Gwadar would be resolved in that manner. A briefing was also given on the various financial incentives being provided to potential investors in the Special Economic Zone of Gwadar as a result of which there was growing interests among investors both in Pakistan and abroad for investment in the Special Economic Zone. With these new incentives, the Gwadar Port is also being activated and three new ships will arrive from China, bringing construction material in July 2016.

Regarding provision of electricity for Gwadar, the committee was informed by the Ministry of Water & Power that as a result of an agreement with an Iranian company, an additional 100 MG of electricity would be available for Gwadar by the end of 2017.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain said during the visit to China, he underlined that the committee, in its working, was guided by 3 key principles, namely, consensus through consultation with all political parties and provinces, transparency in projects and decision making, and inclusive development, with a focus on implementation in letter and spirit of the decisions taken at the all-parties conference held at the Prime Minister's House on May 28, 2015. Among these decisions, building of Western route on priority basis was agreed unanimously by all leaders and political parties, plus the rapid development of Gwadar Port while ensuring that the rights of the citizens of Gwadar are fully protected.

Mushahid also referred to his recent participation and speech on CPEC at the Silk Road Forum organized in Warsaw, Poland to promote connectivity between Europe and Asia. He said there was clear consensus that CPEC was the centrepiece, the flagship, pilot project of the 'One Belt, One Road' initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, hence failure was not an option and “the people of Pakistan are unwavering in their determination to construct the CPEC as it is in the interest of Pakistan and its people.” He said that in line with the work plan of the committee, where the committee would have interaction with all the provinces which had been done in the case of Sindh, KP and Balochistan, now the Parliamentary Committee would interact with the Punjab government during July 21-23, 2016, which will include a briefing by the Punjab Chief Minister.

The NHA chairman briefed the committee in detail regarding the progress being made on the Western route which, he said, would be completed by August 2018. Work on it was already underway at different segments and this would initially be a modern 4-lane highway which would eventually be upgraded into a 6-lane motorway, for which planning was underway. Allocations have already been made and construction is underway on the fast track for the construction of the Western route which, the chairman NHA underlined would be completed a year earlier than the Eastern route since priority was being accorded to the Western route in accordance with the decision of the APC of May 28, 2015 as well as the directive of the prime minister issued in January 2016 on constructing the Western route on priority.

The committee directed the Ministry of Planning & Development to prepare a projection of electricity requirement for Gwadar and Balochistan as a whole.

The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to the chair. Members who attend the meeting included Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Baz Mohammad Khan, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Ghous Bux Mahar, MNA, Rana Mohammad Afzal, Mir Ijaz Jhakrani, MNA and Secretary of the Committee Mr. Khalid Mehmood.