Gwadar Port is situated on the Arabian Sea in the city of Gwadar that is in the Balochistan province in Pakistan. On the port, there is the prominent Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor plan that is highly regarded as one of the most important economic links to ambitious project of Belt and Road Initiative of Chinese Government.
In the year 1954, Gwadar’s potential to become a deep sea port was noted. At that time, the city was still under the Omani suzerainty rule, and for that particular reason, no plans for construction were realized until in the year 2007 when it was officiated by Pervez Musharaf after not less than four years of construction which cost the state $248 million.
In the year 2015, it was further announced that the port would undergo further development under CPEC at the cost of not less than $1.6 billion. This time round, the aim was to link the northern part of Pakistan and the western part of China with the deep water seaport. On top of that, it was announced that the port would be the site of a liquefied natural gas facility that would independently be built to a tune of $2.5 billion.
In June 2016, the new construction began on the Economic Zone of Gwadar which was being built on a 2.29-acre parcel of land that is directly opposite the port. In the year 2015, the port was on an official basis leased to China for a period of 43 years since 2059. In the year 2016, it became formally operational and was inaugurated by the country’s Prime Minister with the first convoy being seen off by the country’s Chief of Army Staff.
Where it is located
The port is geographically situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea in Gwadar city. From Pakistan largest city Karachi, it is located 533 kilometers away which is approximately 120 kilometers from the Iranian border. It is also located not less than 380 kilometers away from Oman and other shipping lanes from the Persian Gulf. A big chunk of the area surrounding the port is home to not less than two-thirds of the world’s best oil reserves. On top of that, it also has very close proximity to the landlocked nations like Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics that are both very rich in hydrocarbon.
The port is expected to provide a very big economic boost to the countries it is going to serve in the sense that it will make it much easier for them to distribute to the world what they export and at the same time, receive goods from other parts of the world with ease. The port is also located on a rocky piece of land that outcrops in the Arabian sea and that also forms part of a natural hammerhead that protrudes out of the Pakistan coastline. This part is fondly known as the Peninsula and is made of a rocky outcropping part that reaches an altitude of 560 feet and a width of 2.5 miles which are both connected to the Pakistan shore.
Back in the year 1954, the Pakistani government contracted the United States Geological Survey to survey its coastline. During the survey, Gwadar was identified as a potential seaport site. This prompted Pakistan to enter into four years of negotiations which ended in 1958 when Oman agreed to sell the Gwadar enclave for a whopping $3 million dollars in September 8th, 1958. From that onset, Gwadar became an official part of Pakistan after being in not less than 200 years of Oman rule.
How construction began
In the year 1992, a small wharf was completed which triggered formal proposals for a deep sea port which were to be unveiled the following year. In the year 2002, the formal construction of Phase One began after an agreement was signed by the Chinese Premier in 2001. After the first phase was constructed in the year 2007, the first commercial cargo docked at the port in 2008 with 70,000 metric tonnes of wheat.
The current construction is the second phase, and it belongs to a planned improvement plan under the CPEC and other ancillary projects combined. For this phase alone, the total estimate cost will not be less than $1.02 billion. It will be encompassed of a 360 megawatt coal-fired power plant, a fully fledged grain terminal, four fully fledged container berths along a 3.2 kilometer shoreline, one bulk cargo handling terminal, a brand new international airport to be built in the vicinity, a modern approach channel, a fully fledged floating gas terminal as well as a Ro-Ro terminal.
In the year 2015, the Chinese government made an announcement that all the previous loans it had made to the project would be converted to 0% interest which meant that the Pakistan government would only be expected to pay the principal value.
The current projects being financed at 0% interest value include East Bay Expressway for a tune f $140 million, the breakwaters installation in Gwadar for $130 million, the coal power plant in Gwadar for $360 million, the Gwadar 300-bed hospital for $100 million as well as the #27 million worth Gwadar dredge berths construction project.
The finished port will also have a special economic zone that will have logistics hubs, manufacturing zones, display centers as well as warehouses. All businesses established in the zone will be exempt from federal excise taxes, as well as income and sales taxes. Contractors and subcontractors who are working on the project will also be exempted from paying taxes for 20 years.
All said and done, this port has and will continue being on the front line when matters related to not just creating employment opportunities for the youth, but creating a better and more stable economic zone in the country blocks, it serves. Once complete, it will serve as an example that with the correct infrastructure, it is possible for countries to progress from one economic stage to another and become an economic powerhouse in the process.
Photo credits : Moign Khawaja, Shakeel Ahmed, Umair Ulhaque & Yasir Nisar