KARACHI: Gwadar port will start its full commercial operation from next month as all the development works have been completed, maritime minister said on Monday.
Minister for Maritime Affairs Hasil Khan Bizenjo said it is a prime responsibility of the government and the people of Pakistan to ensure the smooth working of Gwadar port that “has a significant importance in the region.”
“Locals should come forward prior to other foreign investors and participate in activities,” Bizenjo said, speaking to the members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). “If locals show interest then there should be no complaints.” The minister maritime said the coastal belt of Gwadar has immense opportunities for tourism. The minister urged the private sector to build resorts along the belt.
The minister also dispelled an impression that Chabahar port of Iran would give a setback to Gwadar port. “In future, this port will seek support from Gwadar port,” he said.
China signed an agreement with Pakistan to develop the deep sea commercial port, which is one of its prime priorities under the multibillion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.
Bizenjo said a tender will be floated next month for the construction of elevated expressway by the Karachi Port Trust, which will connect Pakistan Deep Water Container Port with the main port. The project has been under consideration for the last 12 years, he added.
On improvement of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), he said the flagship carrier will soon issue tenders to buy three vessels to increase its fleet. On ferry service, the minister said the ministry is formulating a policy to get it ready for the cabinet’s approval. He, however, said the government will not venture the business of ferry service and instead the private sector will undertake its operation.
The maritime minister urged businessmen to invest in ferry service that has immense investment opportunities. Responding to businessmen grievances about high fees charged by Karachi Port Trust, he asked the KPT board to send proposals for further consideration.
Zhang Baozhong, chairman of China Overseas Port Holding said Gwadar Expo 2018 will be held on January 29 and 30 to update the investors on the port’s development status.
Baozhong urged local people to come forward and take responsibility as one day “Chinese will return.”
The chairman China Overseas Port Holding, which holds the lease of Gwadar port for 40 years, said the port offers numerous benefits to the local traders as well as goods traded under the Afghan transit trade.
There are no demurrage charges, while there is security and safety of cargo with speedy customs clearance and free storage of containers for the three months period.
FPCCI President Zubair Tufail, hailing the Gwadar’s developments, said the first phase of free zone on the area of 721 acres has been completed. Tufail hoped the next phase would also be completed within the deadline.