ISLAMABAD, Aug 22: The federal government has provided an additional amount of $50 million to the ministry of communications to complete the first phase of the Gwadar deep-sea port project by June 2006.

Official sources told Dawn on Monday that the additional funding has been provided for installation of necessary equipment and completion of civil work and roads linking the port with Quetta and other areas. The sources said that the government had decided ‘not’ to allow any work on the second phase of the project till the completion of the first phase, which was originally scheduled to be competed by April this year at a cost of $248 million.

The Chinese side working on the project has completed its work while the local authorities have completed the development of infrastructure, including the road from Gwadar to Karachi. “The port will now be operational by June 2006,” the sources said. They said work on the second phase would be undertaken hopefully in July at a cost of $865 million. It would be completed by 2010. The second phase to be executed by the private sector will enable the port to accommodate 50,000 DWT container ships, 100,000 DWT dry bulk carriers and up to 200,000 DWT oil tankers. It will have three container terminals, one bulk cargo terminal, one grain handling terminal, one twin-pier oil terminal, breakwater, approach channel, back-up areas, craft and equipment and buildings. The first phase, being built by the public sector with the Chinese assistance, includes three multipurpose berths, one service berth, 4.35 km navigable channel, roads, plinths and transit shed, operational craft and equipment and shore-based port buildings and allied facilities.

The sources said that completion of phase-2 would help meet strategic needs and provide standby facility to Port Qasim and Karachi port in case of emergencies. “If the private sector does not respond favourably, public sector financing will be required to develop phase-2 of the port,” the sources said. Officials said that Gwadar would have an edge over Port Salalah of Oman and Iran’s Port Chah Bahar even after its proposed up gradation. Gwadar is expected to serve as the mother port at the strategic location opposite the Straits of Hormuz and on the mouth of Gulf and provide port, warehousing, trans-shipment and industrial facilities for trade with over 20 countries including the Gulf states, Central Asian Republics, Iran, East Africa, countries along the Red Sea and north-western parts of the People’s Republic of China and India. With the completion of both the phases, a special industrial development zone over an area of 4,000 hectares is proposed to be set up. An export processing zone has also been planned for assembling plants and other industries which are to be set up by prospective manufacturers of products to be marketed in the Gulf and Central Asian Republics.

Sorce: The Dawn