Gwadar Port connectivity
NA committee requests PM, president to ensure funds, safety
ISLAMABAD: To save Balochistan, the National Assembly’s (NA) Committee on Ports and Shipping on Thursday requested the prime minister and president to approve proper funds for Gwadar Port connectivity, which is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy.
The committee, chaired by Khawaja Sohail Mansoor and all committee members raised their hands and requested the government to arrange funds and proper security for construction of Gwadar connectivity roads. The government can generate billions of rupees revenue from Gwadar Port once its road connectivity is completed and the port fully functional.
National Highway Authority (NHA) member Aurangzeb Khan informed the committee that the authority is confronting severe finance crises and if the government fails to provide proper funds (at least Rs 2 billion), the existing contractors will shut down their work. He said the NHA also confronts law and order problem, which is hindrance in the execution of works. The NHA contacted the Federal Ministry for Interior, provincial government of Balochistan and other stakeholders but no one provided proper security to contractors. Several people were killed while working in Balochistan Gwadar Port connectivity roads.
On one side, he said the Finance Ministry could not provide funds to the NHA and secondly, the law and order situation is a big problem. The Ministry of Interior is providing FC at the cost of Rs 10 million per month, and the NHA is unable to bear such a huge spending. The NHA member requested the committee to arrange Rs 2 billion during the ongoing fiscal year so as to keep the contractors working till June 2012. For the year 2012-13, the government has allocated Rs 48 billion under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).
The presiding officer, Mansoor told the committee that Gwadar Port is most important for economic uplift of the province and country but it is bad luck that the government totally failed to make it fully functional. He asked the Ministry of Finance to look into the possibility that the government releases funds for only Gwadar Port connectivity. He also suggested that the committee recommended the government allocate Rs 8 billion for Gwadar connectivity roads. But the members were of the view that first law and order situation has to improve there. The chairman was of the view that the law and order situation across the country is not good but developmental works never stopped there. Even in Karachi, KP and Punjab the law and order situation is not ideal but developmental work continues there. He hinted that the situation revealed that provincial government of Balochistan is not serious about the provincial development.
The committee recommended that in next meeting, Balochistan IG, chief secretary, chief minister, interior minister and other stakeholders relating to law and order situation in Balochistan will be called on to discuss the matter. The committee was of the view that if the government wants to keep Balochistan as prosperous and part of Pakistan, it should quickly take action and improve law and order situation there and also arrange proper funds for this important project.
Gwadar Port Authority Chairman Dr Saeed Pervaiz Abbassi requested the committee to ensure Rs 350 million for maintenance of Dredging of Gwadar Port Channel in the annual budget. This amount is required to keep the designed depth of the channel and ensure safe navigation of cargo vessels Gwadar Port. He said the maintenance dredging is done on regular basis to remove silt, mud, gravel and other materials (deposited with passage of time due to sedimentation/natural processes) from inner/outer navigation channels, turning basin and berthing area to maintain the designed depths for safe navigation of ships of 50,000 DWT with local tides. However, the Finance Ministry official opposed it and said that Singapore Port Authority has taken away 91 percent profit of the port and all the expenses covered by the Pakistan government. But the committee recommended to provide Rs 350 million for maintenance and dredging of Gwadar Port Channel. ijaz kakakhel