Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has in principal approved the handing over of the Gwadar Port operations to Singapore Port Authority.

The decision has been made on the recommendation of Gwadar Port Implementation Authority (GPIA) and the special committee constituted to negotiate the agreement for operations of Gwadar Port.

The Prime Minister was chairing a meeting of the Policy Board on development of Gwadar Port here on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister also gave approval of the master plan and business strategy to develop Gwader as a port and industrial city.

Addressing the meeting, the Prime Minister said that Gwader because of its geo-strategic location had the potential to become a regional maritime hub.

He said that the Gwadar Port would emerge as the national gateway to and from Pakistan and a major transhipment Port of the region catering to the needs of Pakistan and Central Asian States. He said that the 14.5 meter deep draft of Gwader Port would be able to attract up to fifth generation ships including Panamax and mother vessels. In addition to the location of Gwadar and the depth of the channel, low operations cost will provide competitive advantage to the Gwadar Port, he added.

The Prime Minister said that with completion of Gwadar Port the government had fulfilled another commitment with the people of Balochistan. The operations of Gwadar Port would usher in a new era of development and prosperity for the people of Balochistan as it would generate economic activity and a significant number of jobs will be created.

He said the free zones which will be set up along the port will contribute to harnessing of Balochistan”s potential in natural resources and development of heavy and large scale industries, petrochemicals and manufacturing.

Earlier, Secretary Port and Shipping, Ms Nadeem Haider in her presentation informed the Prime Minister that Gwadar Port will be operationalised by the end of March.

She said as part of the agreement to be signed with Singapore Port Authority, they will invest $ 550 million in various fields of Gwadar Port. Singapore Port Authority will also build additional berths, she added.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf, Senior Minister attended the meeting among others for Defence Rao Sikandar Iqbal, Minister for Industries, Production and Special Initiative Jahangir Khan Tareen, Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Amanullah Khan Jadoon, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah and senior officials.

Source: The Nation