Bangla Thursday, August 13, 2020

Gwadar has potential to become a global city: Asim Bajwa

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting and Chairman China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, Asim Saleem Bajwa has said that Gwadar has the potential to become a global city.

According to media reports the Special Assistant said in a tweet that development activity in Gwadar under CPEC projects is picking up and Gwadar port will emerge as vibrant port due to its unique coastline.

2019 was the biggest year by far in the development of Gwadar. This strategic deep seaport is reaping the benefits of the Balochistan Government’s master plan while many projects under CPEC are coming to fruition.

Construction has begun on the city’s new international airport and at Gwadar Expo 2019 in March, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a whole host of new initiatives.

Gwadar: A world-class city?

According to Forbes, a world-class city is one free from traffic, noise, crime and overpopulation. Rather, green areas, peaceful streets, spectacular architecture, good transport links and a safe environment are among the necessary criteria that characterize such a city.

What projects are underway in Gwadar?

The projects currently under development are crucial to the requirements of any city that aims to compete on the global economic stage. Construction has already begun on the city’s airport while Prime Minister Imran Khan has also recently announced the development of additional transport connections by train and ferry. That would certainly match the criteria of a city with an effective mass transit system. Afghan transit trade via Gwadar has also started.

Transit trade to Afghanistan through Pakistan‘s strategic Gwadar seaport began on Sunday with a consignment of bulk cargo from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The first transit consignment of bulk cargo through Gwadar to Afghanistan started today. Several consignments are lined up for coming days,” said Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan‘s special envoy for Afghanistan, on Twitter.

Is there a time frame for Gwadar’s completion?

With its 600-kilometer coastline, Gwadar is a key deep seaport currently operated by state-run by the Chinese firm – China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC), which seeks to gain direct access to the Indian Ocean via Gwadar in line with its $64 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega project.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi announced in October 2019 that the government has granted tax exemption to the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) for 23 years to facilitate establishment of its industrial units at Gwadar Port.

Back in 2017, Pakistan’s ambassador to China, Masoud Khalid stated that Gwadar would be fully operational city within ‘three to four years’. Based on this timeframe, the port would have achieved all its aims by 2021 and while it’s on the road to those goals, it may still be too early in terms of ‘World Class City’ status.

We also know that Gwadar’s international airport was scheduled to open in 2022. Of the many projects currently underway in the city this is, arguably, the most pivotal and once complete, Gwadar can start to look forward to competing on the global stage.

Trade, tourism and an increase in the city’s population is likely to follow from this point and perhaps, we could tentatively look to the opening of the airport as the point when Gwadar’s World Class would be near completion.