With all the skepticism about the Gwadar Port becoming fully operational, the political will of the PPP government has made the strategic port handle 37 shipments of imported commodities and their disbursement to far-flung areas of the country.
After satisfactory handling of recently imported shipments of wheat and fertiliser, the federal government entrusted the Gwadar Port with the task of handling more imported fertiliser, as the TCP has accepted bids for 255,000 tonnes for the Kharif season.
The Gwadar port has handled 37 ships without any delay including one ship carrying 73,000 tonnes of Canadian wheat, Chief Secretary Balochistan, Nasir Mehmud Khosa told The News during an informal talk the other day on his visit to Islamabad.
Critics of the Gwadar port are of the view that the port is more expensive as compared with other two ports in Karachi, as the cost of transportation from Gwadar to interior Sindh or Punjab is higher as compared with transportation of imported items from Karachi by rail or trucks.
“Yes, this transportation cost for imported consignment from Gwadar to other parts of the country is slightly higher, but the FoB prices are much lower”.
Khosa said that the cost of transportation would be further reduced after the completion of Gwadar-Rato Dero section.
“At least 600 trucks are plying the National Highways carrying goods from Gwadar to various destinations in the country. This also creates business activity along the National Highways in the form of hotels, petrol pumps and shops which cater to the needs of commuters on the roads,” he added.
President Asif Ali Zardari during a visit to the US requested the Obama administration for laying a railway track from Gwadar to NWFP connecting Chaman and other parts of the NWFP to Afghanistan.
A bill for the establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in the two provinces of Pakistan ie NWFP and Balochistan along with Azad Jammu & Kashmir has been tabled in the US Congress to work on the same basis as in Egypt.
Pakistan has already offered separate terminals at Gwadar port to capture transit trade of the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and other regional countries.
In recent bilateral talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan for extension in Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA), Pakistan has again offered inclusion of two ports i.e. Gwadar and Bin Qasim for transit trade to Afghanistan.
The first phase was inaugurated by President General Pervez Musharraf on March 20, 2007.
The operation and management of the Gwadar Port has already been handed over to the Singapore Port Authority (SPA) under a 40-year accord. SPA, which is already operating 22 ports in 11 countries, has decided to invest about $550 million in Gwadar Port for its operation and maintenance as a port of international standard.
According to official quarters, Gwadar Port will provide warehousing, transhipment and industrial facilities for trade with more than 20 countries. These countries include China, India, Iran, Afghanistan, UAE and countries of East Africa.
Federal Minister for Industry & Production, Manzoor Ahmed Watto the other day also announced ten years tax holiday and other facilities equal to other Export Processing Zones (EPZs) of the country for Gwadar port to explore the full potential of the port for the benefit of locals and ultimately for the country.
With the import of 1100 KW electricity from Iran to Gwadar and its adjacent areas would also another milestone to make the port a success for Balochistan and its people.
Source: The News