CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa has said that no power on earth could sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as it is the country’s national project.
Addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Tuesday, he said CPEC being a flagship project of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), had improved the road connectivity between the two countries and would do so further.
On eastern alignment of CPEC, Bajwa said only one section Sukkur-Hyderabad is left that has already been launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently.
He said the request for proposals of the project would be completed under public private partnership mode and floated within a month and after that the ground work would be started.
“Now our full focus is on western alignment,” he said, adding that motorway from Islamabad to Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan) is at final stage while DI Khan to Zhob motorway project has also been approved by the Chinese side.
Similarly, the CPEC Authority chief said the ground work on road from Zhob to Quetta had also been started whereas Quetta to Khuzdar, Khuzdar to Awaran and Hoshab, and Khuzdar-Basima roads are also under construction and all of them would be connected with different areas of Balochistan and Sindh with Gwadar.
“Within next three years, all these routes will be connected,” he added.
Bajwa said the western alignment passed through remote areas where there is extreme poverty.
The road projects under CPEC would improve connectivity and create new job opportunities for the people living along the roads, he said. “This would ultimately bring prosperity in the area.”
Bajwa also said, “We are now moving beyond energy and road infrastructure to agriculture, special economic zones (SEZs), tourism, science, technology and information technology”.
He said the poverty alleviation could be ensured through the above mentioned measures being executed under CPEC Phase-II.
In agriculture sector, he said: “We are moving towards corporate farming and community farming for which we are working with the provinces.”
In industrialisation sector Rashakai and Faisalabad, the work is in full swing and number of industries are being installed, he added.
In Rashakai SEZ, he said, 1,000 acre of land had been allocated but some 2,000 applications had so far been received for which 3,600 acres of land was required.
Bajwa said a Canadian and German joint venture had applied for Allama Iqbal SEZ Faisalabad.
“Likewise, a group of Pakistani-American doctors is also interested in electro medical equipment manufacturing,” he said, adding that a lot of people are also interested in Dhabeji zone in Sindh which is more suitable for many investors because of easy approach to Karachi port.
With respect to the industrial development under CPEC, he said keeping in view the rising interest of foreign investors in the Gwadar Free Zone, the government had decide to launch second phase of the zone spanning over an area of 2,200 acres.
The foreign investors, he said, are already showing interest in the second phase that would help bringing huge foreign direct investment in the country.
He said the first phase of the Gwadar Free Zone was launched two years ago on 60 acres of land which was now “fully colonised and well-populated”.
He said six out of 12 factories had been completed while the rest were under construction. Out of the completed industries, one had also started its production, he added.
He said overall work on Gwadar port and other projects in the city, is in full swing. “Four port buses have been completed, customs have been deployed and the handling capacity of the port is also being increased gradually.”
Bajwa said PM Imran had specifically formed a separate focus group aimed at increasing traffic of the sea port. “The group is led by the maritime ministry while the commerce ministry is also its part,” he added.