GWADAR: Around 30 companies have so far invested in the Gwadar Free Zone, with a direct investment of about $474 million, according to official sources on Sunday.
The Gwadar Free Zone, being developed by a Chinese company, is located in the northern part of Gwadar, about 7km away from the port.
The planned development period is from 2015 to 2030 and is divided into four phases. The pilot phase of the free zone has already been completed. The 923-hectare Free Zone includes an initial area (25 hectares) and the northern area (898 hectares).
The initial area is located in the west of the existing port. Its main purpose is to play a pilot role in setting up industries and to increase the cargo capacity for the port.
The construction of the initial area includes a few projects: infrastructure, business centre, trade exhibition hall, cold storage and warehouse. By January of 2018, all those constructions have been completed.
The Gwadar Free Zone was inaugurated, and the first International Expo was held in January 2018. With the construction of the free zone, the city of Gwadar will become a commercial hub of the region in the near future.
The initial work including design and the feasibility study for construction of a new international airport has already been finalised.
It will be an airport of international standards capable of handling the largest of passenger planes, including the A380 Boeing Jet, and is aimed at facilitating the movement of international investors and visitors.
The Civil Aviation of Authority (CAA) has earmarked 3000 acres of land 26km northeast of the existing airport. The new airport will be given international status and will operate under the open skies policy.
In the meantime, there are plans at the existing airport to further facilitate the movement of wide-bodied aircraft.
Efforts are also underway to start work on a technical and vocational institute this year to meet the demand of skilled workers for the port and the free zone. Land has been acquired for the purpose, while the design and feasibility study have also been completed.
The construction of China-Pakistan friendship hospital will star in the next few months to ensure medical facilities to the local population. A project for provision of 200,000-gallons of water to the residents of Gwadar has been started.
The Gwadar port was handed over to the Chinese Overseas Port Holding Company on February 15 to make it operational.
Vessels and ships have started arriving and they are bringing cargo and equipment for the work on port and it will become fully operational in three to four years.