Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said on Monday the Gwadar port will become commercially operational within one month as ships will start calling on the port in January.
Addressing business leaders at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), the minister said the long-delayed elevated expressway, to be built by the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), will be completed within three years. Tenders for the project are being issued this week, he added.
The minister stated that the Gwadar port and the Chabahar port of Iran will supplement each other. The latter will always be in need of support from the former, he noted.
He said heavy vehicles moving in and out of the Karachi port will use the elevated expressway, leaving the road at the zero level for city traffic.
The minister said the expressway will start at Keamari. It will provide connectivity to the Pakistan Deep Water Container Terminal (PDWCT) along with east and west wharves. Through M.A. Jinnah Road and Jinnah Bridge, the elevated expressway will connect with Northern Bypass, he said.
The minister urged the business community to play its role in making the Gwadar port operational.
He said the port and industrial area have a lot of capacity. “They offer many opportunities, but you have to get there early as others may take advantage by moving in first,” he noted.
The minister reminded the business community that the Gwadar Development Authority chairman has assured businessmen of all sorts of facilities. “If you still do not take interest in the port then no complaints should come from your side in the future.”
The minister said that if the Karachi port’s charges are high, the issue should have been put up before his ministry, especially because the business community has its representatives on the KPT’s board.
The minister stated that Pakistan National Shipping Corporation will not start a ferry service as it is up to the private sector to carry out such commercial ventures.
Senator Bizenjo said the ferry policy of the federal government is tilted towards the private sector. Therefore, the private sector should take the initiative as the number of pilgrims to Iran and Iraq is around 500,000 per annum.
Similarly, there could be a ferry service from Karachi to Port Qasim and Gwadar, he said. “Why not a ferry service for people who want to have their dinner in the middle of the sea?”
He also assured the business community that the government will give it free-of-cost space to run the ferry service, recreational spots and other ventures that are of commercial nature.
He said there is a long, beautiful coastline from Karachi to Gwadar along the coastal highway where recreational resorts can be developed. Only one such resort of small capacity has been developed so far by a doctor of the area, he said. “We can only give you permission for running such businesses,” he said.