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Gwadar Port : Hidden forces creating hurdles in development

ISLAMABAD: The legislators on Thursday expressed their apprehensions that some hidden forces are behind the scene creating hindrance in the full functionality of Gwadar Port, which is already developed but cannot complete its roads connectivity with rest of the country.

Members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping expressed these views during a meeting under the chairmanship of Rana Mahmood-ul-Hassan.

The members said some friendly neighbour countries are also involved in disrupting the smooth functionality of the port, which is in the best interest of the country. When the government wanted to develop the Karachi Port, same types of hurdles were created by neighbouring countries. However, the members stressed for creation of unity and fully operational the Gwadar Port. Everyone has to keep the national interest on top.

MNA Nasir Ali Shah claimed there will be no example of any port in the world, which is constructed in instalments. He said functionality of this port is not the priority of the government. Gwadar Port will not be completed by 2025 if the government does not allocate and release funds for Gwadar connectivity roads network. Without road connectivity, he said this port is a total failure and all the money spent over will be a waste. He also expressed his astonishment over the fact that Port of Singapore earned more money than the port authority itself. Like Sandak and Reko Diq, these foreigners just took away the resources of Balochistan and the people of the area are left at the mercy of nature.

Chairman of the committee said if the prime minister can approve Rs 47 billion for Multan Package then he should also approve special funds for construction of Gwadar roads network.

Officials of the National Highway Authority (NHA) briefed the committee about its ongoing construction of roads in Balochistan. They said that development works on Makran Coastal Highway was in progress but the work was delayed due to non-availability of funds. The 2010 floods resulted in a cut in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2010-11 and the NHA funds were cut by 50 percent from Rs 36 billion to Rs 18 billion last year.

Such a cut of funds badly affects the progress on construction of roads across the country including Balochistan. The officials of NHA also informed the committee that a contractor on Makran Coastal Highway was killed. The law and order creates hurdles in execution of the project, which further delay the completion of the project.

The NHA requires Rs 2 billion urgently for this project and the government allocated Rs 1.5 billion in the PSDP 2011-12, which also prolongs the time period of completion of this national importance project.

MNA Fouzia Wahab speaking on the occasion said that under the new National Finance Commission Award, the share of Balochistan province is increased from Rs 35 billion to Rs 90 billion. Apart from these amounts, she said the government also allocated more funds under special package for Balochistan. The provincial government of Balochistan has to spare some money for this important project because major benefits of it will go to the province. Funds generation for the government is the most difficult job because imposing new taxes is strongly resisted by the people. Ports and Shipping secretary informed the committee that up till now 105 containers enter the country through Gwadar Port and each container generates employment to 240 persons. Only urea fertilizer, wheat and sugar are imported into the country through this port.

MNA Nosheen Saeed informed the committee that when Pakistan stopped NATO containers, it cost the forces $500 per container while transporting through other routes. Why is Pakistan not demanding such compensation while allowing NATO containers to pass through using our network. Same is the case of Gwadar Port, she said if developed will also benefit trade with China and India. There is great potential and stressed that the port road connectivity might be completed earlier.

Chairman of the committee decided to hold the next meeting in Gwadar where all stakeholders will be briefed by the committee and efforts will speed up the work on its road construction.

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