By Yasmeen M.hasni
When you hear someone say about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC, a picture of a developed Gwadar appears in mind. By mulling this fact over, this development is considered for the betterment of Pakistan. Unfortunately, when it comes to development – thousands of questions arise after looking over the current scenario of locals.
However, Gwadar port holds great strategic and economic significance for Pakistan. It is the third important deep sea port of Pakistan after Karachi and Qasim ports. It is located at the cross-junction of international sea shipping and oil trade routes. Gwadar can act as an international trade hub for Pakistan. Hence, the importance of Gwadar port matters for Pakistan.
To illustrate, CPEC is a bilateral project worth $6.2 billion between China and Pakistan. It is said that the geo-strategic value of Pakistan can be enhanced because of CPEC. China has poured so far US $ 1.9 billion in 22 projects of which 9 of them are finished and 13 are ongoing. Meanwhile, the total interest due by 2022 will be about $ 1 billion.
Moreover, both sides have established a Joint Cooperation Committee which focuses on transparent infrastructure, Gwadar port energy and Industrial Cooperation.
But, having a look at local people of Gwadar nothing had transformed for them after development projects.
Infact, the development around the coastal city has worried the local fishing community. Since last year, fishing communities have held protests following the construction of the East Bay Expressway. This project is under construction and was said to be accomplished in 2018. But this project is delayed till October 2020.
However, this 19-km six lane expressway which will provide a direct link from Cargo traffic and from Gwadar port, connecting it to the Makran Coastal Highway. It will block upto 4.3 km of the coastline, affecting all the fishing communities of Gwadar. However, East Bay Expressway is a bone of contention for fishermen.
Locals of Gwadar have to face an energy crisis. To overcome this crisis $33 billion expected to be invested in the energy sector. However, the ” Early Harvest ” scheme of CPEC an estimated 10,400 MW of electricity are stated for generation in the year 2018 as a part of CPEC’s
“Early Harvest Project”. To put it briefly, after these projects Gwadar still faces an energy crisis.
Even so, the infrastructure is still the same as it was witnessed before in Gwadar. The projects which include road and rail sector projects are still pending. Moreover, the sewerage system of Gwadar is inferior. In brief, none has become beneficial for locals.
Admittedly, locals of Gwadar are jobless besides the game-changer :CPEC located in their city. To highlight, due to the projects of CPEC, they will create about 100,000 direct jobs during the period of 2015 to 2030. Unfortunately, still people of Gwadar are jobless.
Furthermore, Energy Projects of CPEC include Port Qasim Coal-Fired Power Plant ,Quaid e Azam Solar Plant and Jhimpir Wind Farm are in 100 percent completion. Moreover, Sahiwal Coal-Fired Power Plant, Engro Thar Coal-Fired Power Plant and Surface Mine in Block ll, Suki-Kinari Hydropower Project, Rahim Yar Khan Coal Power Plant are under construction.
All these above mentioned projects accomplished are outside Balochistan. While the other projects which are meant to be beneficial for Gwadar are still pending.
The projects initiated in Balochistan include actively promoted projects which have HubCo power plant, Gadani Power Plant of District Lasbela and HubCo Coal Power Plant have negotiations in progress.
While on other hand the projects which are planned for Gwadar City at capacitating Balochistan are still pending. Focusing on mega projects which are only beneficial for CPEC are ongoing. For instance, Gwadar Eastbay Expressway, Gwadar International Airport, Gwadar Free Zone, Gwadar Smart Port City Masterplan, Expansion of Multi-purpose Terminal including Breakwater and Dredging are ongoing.
Also, Fresh Water Supply, Wastewater treatment Plants for Gwadar City, Gwadar Pak-China Friendship Hospital and Vocational College are still to be determined.
CPEC is considered as an asset for Pakistan. But, unfortunately it is unprofitable for not only locals of Gwadar but for Balochistan. The development projects which include employment, digital services, healthcare, infrastructure and diverse investment opportunities are still pending.
People still have to suffer for basic necessities which include electricity, water and healthcare. All in all, this game changer, CPEC is not considered advantageous for locals of Gwadar.