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Gwadar port locals' mixed reactions towards CPEC projects


04-24-2017 13:47 BJT

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(Source: CGTN)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a development scheme currently underway throughout the South Asian country. And Gwadar, a port town in south west Pakistan is known as the heart of the CPEC. Originally valued at $46 billion US dollars, CPEC projects are now worth $62 billion US dollars. The project is intended to rapidly modernize Pakistan's infrastructure and strengthen its economy. but how does the local population of Gwadar expect to benefit? What needs of theirs do the government of Pakistan and China have to consider?

Life has been tough for Boat makers in Gwadar like 70 year old Najeeb Baloch. He has lived all his life at sea. His whole family is in the fishing business.

But Najeeb has bigger expectations for his children and grand children.

"I don’t want my grand children to work as boat makers, there is no future in this. i want them to study hard and get jobs," Local boat-maker Najeeb Baloch said.

His hopes and dreams are attached to the multi billion dollars China Pakistan Economic corridor.

There are mixed reactions coming from within the local population of Gwadar, where many are happy with the arrival of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, there are some who fear that their livelihood may come under threat.

But the Chinese companies working at the port in Gwadar say that they are aware of the concerns and demands of the people and that China is committed to fulfilling their needs.

"In 2017, we have a new plan, we are cooperating with a Chinese NGO, and will build a new trauma center near the port, this trauma center will serve the local public and also some investors, it is beneficial for both. many plans in our project list. we are doing one good job for the locals, and every year we are trying our best to benefit the local people," Peter Hu, deputy general manager of Gwadar Free Zone Company, COPHC, said.

Mubarak Ali, al local from Gwadar works for the China overseas port holding company, and says that the arrival of CPEC has opened many opportunities for the locals.

"I am a local from Gwadar and I'm working with the Chinese and i wish that more and more locals could work for them. in return china should attend to the needs of the people, they need clean water, electricity and a proper sewerage system. in fact the locals would be of much more help than anyone else because they know the sea better than anyone," Ali said.

The old city of Gwadar lies at a stones throw from the port, where life goes on as usual. The roads are not paved and most of the town remains as much a slum as it always has been, deprived of all civic amenities. Electricity is rarely available and tap water is supplied only two hours a week. but the local administration seems to be oblivious about the ground realities and says that all is good.

"The local people are feeling happiness over the CPEC projects, and they are not concerned about it. being the deputy commissioner, I'm looking after their concerns. and we are responsible to provide basic necessities of life to them like water, electricity and roads and infrastructure," Tufail Baloch, deputy commissioner of Gwadar District, said.

Muhammad Sharif, a local social activist, says most of the CPEC projects are being carried out without considering the needs of the people. Their design and the manner in which they are operated provide little benefit to local residents.

"When development takes place in any area, the indigenous people are always the first to benefit from it. the first right is theirs. they are developing the Chinese port, give us employment at the port, the Chinese are our brothers, we will work with them shoulder to shoulder," Activist Muhammad Sharif said.

Sharif’s thoughts reflect an overall trend in Gwadar, but the older generation like Najeeb looks towards China, with hopes that their lives will finally improve in the days to come.

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