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December 25, 2011
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Gwadar Port continues to depend on govt cargo

National

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December 25, 2011

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KARACHI: The Gwadar Port, which was envisioned to become a transshipment hub for the landlocked Central Asian States (CAS), Afghanistan and Western China, continues to depend on government cargo.
The government in last three years paid an extra amount of Rs10.21 billion just to import fertiliser and wheat from this port. In the last three years, 101 vessels arrived at the port. Its future remains bleak in the absence of any serious efforts to make the port fully functional.
The running of the port affairs was given to Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), one of the biggest port operators in the world, but it is just relying on government cargo, thus grossly deviating from the master plan of the government, Senator Dr Ismail Buledi said.
He added that the port should be given to China so it can be operated according to the master plan. “If the Gwadar Port is marketed well, the regional ports will lose considerable business,” he said. “It is time we took right decisions. Otherwise Gwadar Port may lose this opportunity to the fast developing Iranian port of Chabahar.”
The government has been trying, through temporary measures, to bail out the PSA, which has failed to implement its business plan of making the port fully operational by 2008, added the senator.
He added that the government subsidies benefited some individuals, but not people of Gwadar or the people of the rest of Balochistan. The ultimate beneficiaries are people from outside Balochistan and PSA. Even most of the skilled labour is hired from Karachi, he complained.
He said he is lobbying for a permanent solution for the Gwadar Port issues and the Prime Minster has announced Rs6 billion for the construction of roads to link Gwadar with the rest of the country. In January, the National Highway Authority (NHA) will start its work.
He emphasised that most of the connectivity roads are 30 to 40 percent completed so the government should focus on them. Once the port is

connected according to the master plan, investment and business will be attracted, he said confidently.
Connectivity through roads from the Port to Karachi (the Makran Coastal Highways), to Punjab through Turbat, Khoshab, Awaran, Khuzdar, Ratodero and to Quetta through Turbat, Panjgur, and Surab requires Rs45 billion. But the government has so far provided Rs10.21 billion extra cost to import fertiliser and wheat from Gwadar. Had this amount been given for the construction of the roads, it would have helped to resolve the connectivity issue to some extent, said the senator. This would help in resolving the problems of people of Balochistan to a great extent, he added.

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