Karachi, Apr 12: The multi-million dollar Gwadar port being developed by Pakistan and China on southwest coast in the troubled Balochistan province will be fully operational by the end of 2016, a Chinese official said today.
"Right now there is really nothing at the port that is why we are working overtime to get it fully operational and develop it to handle full trade," Zhang Baozhong, chairman of the Chinese public company in charge of the project, said.
Zhang said that the Gwadar port will see an estimated one million tonnes of cargo going through it by 2017.
"Our dream is to make Gwadar a regional trading centre," he told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar. The development of the Gwadar port is part of China's ambitious USD 46 billion dollar joint economic corridor pact with Pakistan.
The port project is also seen as part of Beijings plan to have more economic say in the region and gain more access to the Middle East, Europe and Africa through Gwadar. "The idea behind working overtime to fully develop the port is that it will become a regional trading centre and port," he told reporters.
The port was built in 2007 with technical help from China as well as financial assistance of USD 248 million from it.
A Pakistani official involved in the project told reporters that eventually they dream of seeing Gwadar turn into another Dubai due to the various development projects being carried out in the area.
He said the Pakistan government planned to develop the local fishing industry once the port was fully operational. The Pakistan government has beefed up the security for the Gwadar port and its surrounding areas due to the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan which is rich in natural resources and minerals.
Baloch nationalists and insurgents accuse China of siding with the elite in Pakistan to deprive rightful share/jobs to the local people.