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Gwadur, a major seaport of tomorrow.

Once the situation in Afghanistan normalises, experts foresee a bright future for more than 350 million Muslims of the area living in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics in which Gwadur has a central role to play.

Economic experts, planners and engineers are coming to a small, sleepy coastal town of fishermen called Gwadur in Balochistan next month to hold a seminar. The seminar will discuss the development plans and explore prospects of a full economic potential of the area.

Located at about 300 miles west of Karachi and lying in close proximity to Straits of Hormuz, which is the biggest waterway for oil transportation in the world, Gwadur had always been the focus of attention of planners and strategists. It has all the potential to act as trans-shipment station which could serve the Gulf and East African ports.

Now, after the liberation of six Central Asian republics from the former Soviet Union, Gwadur is destined to play a major role in the economic uplift of about 250 million Muslims living there. The only hurdle at present is the unstable conditions obtaining in Afghanistan which prevent development of the whole area in toto.

Once the situation in Afghanistan normalises, experts foresee a bright future for more than 350 million Muslims of the area living in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics in which Gwadur has a central role to play.

Experts see Gwadur developing as a major sea port which could handle containers and ships of more than one lakh tons capacity before the end of this century. With the advent of the 21st century, the hinterland of Gwadur is bound to emerge as hub of industrial and commercial activities.

In the meanwhile, Sri Lanka emerged as a major source of dry and salt fish supplier which adversely affected fish industry at Gwadur.

Balochistan is gifted with rich reserves of oil and gas and mineral resources. Saindak is progressing fast and is likely to give a rich harvest of copper, gold and molybednum and other minerals. Oil and gas exploration is underway at a rapid pace and development of the port and construction of link roads will act as catalyst to further accelerate the pace of exploitation of mineral wealth of the area.

Communication development made a modest beginning in October last when a private shipping company started operation of ferry service between Karachi, Gwadur and Muscat. There are prospects of more companies coming in to further improve the service and shipping experts believe that a service touching the East African ports could also begin without much fuss.

Reports coming in from Gwadur indicate that about Rs. 2 billion project of construction of a mini-port and fishing harbour is almost complete and stage is set for associating the private sector in undertaking the construction of a deep sea port.

The construction of a fish harbour at Gwadur is said to have been conceived as a project during decade of sixties. Since there did not exist province by the name Balochistan, the project could never be given a shape. It was after the creation of the province of Balochistan in 1970 that Gwadur started getting due attention. However, the induction of elected governments brought a qualitative change in the outlook and the proposal of Gwadur fishing harbour became a live issue.

Until 1976, the Gwadur fish harbour was an affair of the provincial government. But in subsequent period, the Federal Government took its responsibility. In 1978 fish catch at Gwadur was assessed at more than 23,000 tons which was almost 35 per cent of the entire Balochistan fish harvest. Since there existed no infrastructure facilities like landing jetty, fish market, cold storages and refrigeration plants, the catches plant, the fish catch was converted into dry and salt fish.

But at that time Gwadur had no road and communication links worth the name to facilitate the marketing of dry and salted fish. In the meanwhile, Sri Lanka emerged as a major source of dry and salt fish supply. That affected fish industry at Gwadur. Ironically enough, Sri Lanka had once been a major buyer of the dry and salted fish of Gwadur.

It took 20 years for the Government to study the Gwadur fish harbour project. A number of feasibility reports were prepared by different consultants and various proposals were made. Since there were no Balochistan representatives within the power centers at Islamabad, only the consultants, technocrats and bureaucrats thrived on fat fees and kick backs they received for preparing one report on Gwadur port and then getting it rejected.

Eventually, in 1978 the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) sent a team for carrying out necessary studies at Gwadur. That team carried out an extensive study and a fish survey for two years and submitted a report along with a layout plan to the Government.

The report lay in cold storage and was taken up in 1984 again when Government appointed a consultant to update the JICA report. The foreign consultants appointed for this purpose were M/s. Techno Consult and Gifford and Partners International Limited. They thoroughly scrutinised the JICA report and carried out their own investigations and tests, in collaboration with experts based at Holland and England. They made suitable improvements, in the design and the layout plans. Regarding as the first step towards economic development of the area, the province of Balochistan and the whole of Pakistan, the Gwadur Fish Harbour Project is expected to give a total fish yield of more than 54,000 tons in 1998.

Some of the major components of the Fish Harbour project are 70 acres of development of harbour land-cum-miniport, construction of 416 meters long and 64.7 meters wide pier deck structure (jetty), dredging of 1,670 meters long approach canal which has a width of 60 meters and a depth of 3.5 meters, construction of auction shed on 3,000 square meters, construction of cold storage shed on 960 meters, construction of power plants, installation of two mobile cranes, five ice plants of 50 tons each, two cold storages of 500 tons capacity each, harbour capacities to handle 500 to 600 fishing boats every day and the port to handle three vessels of 1,000 tons capacity each at a time. Total maintenance cost of harbour is being estimated at Rs. 40 million in local currency and Rs. 6 million in foreign currency.

The harbour offers all opportunities to the private sector to invest for the setting up cold storage, ice plant, auction hall, storage sheds, de-salination plant, shopping centre, handling of general cargo, oil storage and distribution cargo, warehouses, storage platform, and other ancillary services. Like other desert towns of Mekran, Gwadur has scant agriculture. Most of the commodities of daily use are being transported from karachi either by air or through ships and boats. Land transport is unreliable because of the bad road conditions. All these conditions make the commodities of daily use very expensive in Gwadur. Located on the Mekran Coast, Gwadur is connected, by a fair weather track, with Pasni on the east and with Jiwani on the West. To the north, a single road connects Gwadur with Turbat on the Bela-Pishin Cento highway which itself is connected with other parts of Balochistan as well as with Karachi.
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Title Annotation:Gwadur, Balochistan
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Eighth plan projection.
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