Saturday October 01, 2022

PM orders probe into delay in Gwadar breakwater project

July 07, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday said he had ordered an inquiry into the criminal delay in Gwadar breakwater project as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s government had ignored it despite availability of grants.

On his Twitter handle, he wrote, “In a meeting today, I ordered inquiry into criminal delay in Gwadar breakwater project. It baffles mind how PTI govt ignored it despite availability of $445m grant, $484m soft loan & feasibility. From energy to infrastructure, every project under PTI suffered costly delays.”

Earlier, the prime minister chaired a meeting to review different development projects in Balochistan and Gwadar. He directed the PM’s Inspection Commission chairman to submit a comprehensive report over such criminal negligence within one week.

In a related tweet, he stressed that time for presentation was over as it was time for action. He said that Gwadar was not just about infrastructure development, being part of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), it had political, economic and strategic value.

He further resolved that turning Balochistan’s backwardness into prosperity was his mission and their collective responsibility. Briefing the prime minister in the meeting, the secretary maritime affairs said the breakwater project at the Gwadar port under concession agreement had to be constructed for which $445 million grant and $484 million loan was provided by the Chinese government but it hit the snags.

The prime minister said due to its location, the Gwadar port was an important and most suitable hub for the global trade. Through the port, they would have to ensure supply of imported goods to the upper and northern areas of the country.

He said there should be best and efficient road and railway infrastructures for the purpose, adding that through hard work, they would have to move ahead and remove all the deprivation of the province.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Faisal Sabzwari, Minister for Energy Engineer Khurram Dastagir, Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique, PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi and other high officials, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

The prime minister also ordered all the steps to ensure Chinese investment in Gwadar to promote exports and provide employment opportunities to the people, especially the residents of the area, and directed the Balochistan chief secretary and the secretary planning to formulate a feasible plan for investment in food, agriculture and petrochemicals in consultation with the Chinese companies.

The Balochistan chief secretary, secretary maritime affairs, secretary railways, National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman and China Overseas Port Holding Company Pakistan (COPHC) chairman apprised the prime minister of the progress on different uplift projects.

The NHA chairman briefed the prime minister about the access of upper and northern areas of the country to the Gwadar port through CPEC’s eastern and western routes. The prime minister also directed the NHA, and ministries of maritime affairs and planning to submit after Eid, a joint review report, regarding ensuring supply of trade goods.

The COPHC chairman stated a plant with capacity of 1.2 million gallons water would soon arrive Pakistan and start functioning by the end of current year.

The chief secretary briefed the prime minister that out of the total 35,500 households in Gwadar, 31,000 were on-grid whereas 4,500 others had been off-grid. To meet requirements of the on-grid homes, a mini solar park on the basis of built, operate and transfer (BOT) basis in collaboration with the Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) and private sector was being installed. NEPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) would issue a power purchase agreement in that regard, he added.

For the supply of power to the off-grid households, the secretary said, 3KW solar home stations were being installed with an amount of Rs1.8 billion. The PM directed the relevant authorities to complete the entire process through transparent tendering. He advised that the solar system providing company should be made responsible for a three-year after sale service to facilitate the public. He directed the secretaries concerned to form a complete strategy in that regard.

Besides, the PM also directed the chief secretary to ensure security of the staff working on different projects in the province and mapping of all the uplift projects. He asked for formulation of a comprehensive security plan in collaboration with the Interior Ministry and law enforcement agencies, adding that the dream of economic prosperity could not be materialised without peaceful environment.

The railways secretary briefed the PM over the linkages between Gwadar and other cities of the country and the progress on the new railway tracks. The prime minister directed to ensure all the possible and effective steps in that regard.

Meanwhile, on the directive of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) will launch online system for citizens to make government payments without additional charges.

The system will start working soon after Eid-ul-Azha, Head of PM’s Strategic Reforms Salman Sufi said Wednesday. Sufi said efforts were afoot to transfer all government payments to the online system within six months, for which instruction had been given to the president of NBP. He said an efficient online system, which has no additional charges on consumers, was significant for cashless economy. He said the step would prove a milestone in promoting cashless economy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday directed to ensure transparency in the provision of cheaper wheat flour to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the federal government.

The prime minister was talking to his Advisor Engr. Amir Muqam, who called on him here. The country’s political situation was also discussed in the meeting. Meanwhile, Senator Maulana Abdul Gafoor Haideri called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif here on Wednesday. Views were exchanged about political as well as overall situation in the meeting.