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Dhabeji Special Economic Zone – A game changer

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KARACHI: The development work on the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone has commenced. By inaugurating this project, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has taken the initial step towards realizing the aspirations of Shaheed Zulifqar Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. The Dhabeji Special Economic Zone project is a significant component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and will be linked to the historic Keti Bandar, which connects to the Gwadar Port. Keti Bandar was constructed following the closure of the historic Shah Bandar, which was a significant trading hub at the time.

In Dada Sindhi’s book “Ports and Bazaars of Sindh,” it is stated that Ghulam Shah Kalhoro constructed Shah Bandar in order to engage in trade with Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. This facilitated business activities starting from 1659 AD. Subsequently, Keti Bander was established.

During the early years of British rule, the port mentioned was highly profitable and served as a shipping point for the East India Company’s goods to Shah Bandar. Both Shaheed Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto initiated various projects for the rehabilitation of Keti Bandar and Shah Bandar. In 1994, Benazir Bhutto also envisioned constructing a power plant using Thar coal and establishing a road network in the area. Feasibility reports were prepared, and plans were made for a power station and a port at Keti Bandar.

Now, as Keti Bandar is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a special economic zone has been established for the successful implementation of this project. The economic zone, known as Dhabeji Special Economic Zone, covers 1500 acres of land and aims to connect Karachi to the entire country through the Malir Expressway.

The development work of the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone is planned to be completed within 18 months. Situated approximately nine and a half kilometers from Port Qasim, this proximity adds to the value and usefulness of the project. The economic zone can serve as a storage hub for Port Qasim, facilitating efficient logistics.

Furthermore, the economic zone will be well-connected through road and railway networks, enabling the transportation of goods and materials. The zone will accommodate a range of industries, including light, medium, and heavy industries. Additionally, it will provide warehouse and logistics facilities, as well as commercial and residential plots for people seeking residences or business opportunities.

The Dhabeji Special Economic Zone aims to provide a peaceful environment for residents and businesses alike. To ensure a smooth functioning of the economic zone, an allocation of 878.5 million has been made for water supply, ensuring an uninterrupted water supply through the Dhabeji Pumping Station.

Additionally, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) has already been signed with Sui Southern Gas for the supply of gas to the economic zone. Furthermore, a grid station with a capacity of 250 MW will be established through a line from the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) to provide electricity to the project. The cost of setting up this grid station is estimated to be around Rs 6.15 billion. These measures are aimed at providing essential utilities to support the smooth functioning and development of the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone.

The Dhabeji Special Economic Zone has allocated 13.5 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas supply, which will be provided at a cost of Rs 429 million. This gas supply is essential to supporting the industrial activities within the economic zone.

Furthermore, as part of the annual development plan, a dedicated road connecting the economic zone directly to Port Qasim is scheduled to be completed by 2024. This road project has a budget of Rs 2.7 billion and will be linked to the National Highway through an interchange, enhancing connectivity and facilitating the movement of goods and people.

Special packages have also been announced to incentivize people working in the economic zone. These include a one-time exemption from tax and customs duty on the import of capital goods, as well as income tax exemption for a period of ten years. These measures are designed to promote investment, boost economic activity, and attract businesses to the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone.

The Dhabeji Special Economic Zone is regarded as a flagship project of the Government of Sindh and is planned to be executed through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. The feasibility study and transaction advisory for the project were completed by IBE Karachi, EA Consulting, and Rhea Barker Gilt, indicating a comprehensive planning process.

Zayed KB Builders has been selected as the successful bidder for the project, and a concession agreement has been established with them. EF Ferguson has been appointed as the project’s auditor to ensure transparency and accountability.

The economic zone is expected to attract significant investment, estimated to be around $5 billion. With such substantial investment, the project holds the potential to provide employment opportunities to approximately one lakh (100,000) individuals.

During the opening ceremony of the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Foreign Minister, highlighted the party’s commitment to public-private partnerships for development projects. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between the government and the business community in promoting economic development and prosperity.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari mentioned the Thar coal project as an example of a successful public-private partnership project. He addressed the false propaganda surrounding such partnerships, emphasizing that Sindh’s public-private partnership projects have achieved success. In fact, he stated that Sindh province has been ranked sixth globally in terms of public-private partnerships.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed optimism about the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone, emphasizing its potential to create over 150,000 employment opportunities. He stated that this initiative would contribute to alleviation of poverty and unemployment in the region.

These remarks demonstrate the PPP’s commitment to utilizing public-private partnerships to drive economic growth, create employment opportunities, and uplift the standard of living in the area.

In a 2016 CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) meeting, approval was granted for six economic zones, one of which is the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone. Today, work is commencing on this project. The Dhabeji Special Economic Zone is strategically located, with 1500 acres of land allocated for it on a 50-year lease. Additional land will also be assigned for the zone’s expansion, contributing to the economic development of Pakistan, particularly in Karachi.

The Dhabeji Special Economic Zone holds a central position and is in close proximity to Karachi Port, Karachi Airport, Port Qasim, and the National Highway. It is expected to be a game-changer in terms of industrial development, introducing a new concept not only in Sindh but throughout Pakistan. This project is anticipated to promote economic stability and serve as a catalyst for the country’s economic growth and employment opportunities. Its significance has earned it the designation as the gateway of Pakistan.

The writer is Deputy Director, Information and Archives Department, Government of Sindh. He regularly contributes articles in regional and national dailies ]

Sindh

Sindh Solid Waste Management Board starts paying for garbage disposal in Pak Rupees

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KARACHI: With an aim to lower the financial burden on the provincial exchequer, the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) started to pay private companies contracted for garbage disposal in the city in local currency instead of US dollars.

In this regard, Managing Director SSWMB Syed Imtiaz Ali Shah held a meeting with representatives of the private firms responsible for disposal of garbage in the city and apprised them of the decisions made by the steering committee of the Board.

The meeting deliberated upon the new plan of garbage disposal in the city before the expiry of the contracts made with private firms for solid waste management on district West, Malir, Keamari and East.

It was informed in the meeting that the negotiation with the contracting firms for payment in local currency had already been started.

The representatives of the private firms working in district Malir, West and Keamari informed the meeting that the verification of the staff and vehicles had been completed through a third party, while the verification was still going on in district East.

The managing-director directed the officials concerned to take steps to further improve efficiency in the new operational plan.

He asked the officials to make union committee-wise operational plan, containing complete details of daily waste volume, transport, machinery, staff and all resources to further improve the door-to-door waste collection services.

He also directed the private companies to pay the salaries of their respective staff on time. Mr Shah said that the operational plan should also include training of the staff, the strategy of separate collection of waste and date of people who picked garbage illegally.

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SBCA launches crackdown against illegal structures in Karachi

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KARACHI: The Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) has initiated massive crackdown against illegal constructions in different parts of the city, resulting in demolition of numerous buildings, marriage halls etc.

In a recent operation against illegal constructions in Karachi’s district Central, SBCA officials also came under firing, however, SBCA officials proceeded with the operation and demolished the fourth floor of the targeted building.

Director General of SBCA Abdul Rasheed Solangi has instructed the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Central to apprehend the culprits immediately and file a case against those involved in the firing.

Abdul Rasheed Solangi emphasized the need for fearless enforcement actions against illegal constructions and commended the SBCA staff for their dedication and honesty. He assured them of full support in facing any challenges during their duties.

Abdul Rasheed Solangi along with the demolition squad has bulldozed more than four buildings in areas including Essa Nagri, Paposh Nagar, and Gulberg. Moreover, over 13 illegal portions have been demolished in areas including Saddar Town, Jamshed Town, Gulberg, and Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Director General of SBCA Abdul Rasheed Solangi is personally supervising the crackdown against illegal constructions. The provincial government is committed to cleansing Karachi from all forms of illegal constructions, the DG adds.

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Sindh CS, British Deputy High Commissioner vow to strengthen bilateral relations, work for environmental challenges

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KARACHI: British Deputy High Commissioner Sarah Mooney met with Chief Secretary Sindh Syed Asif Hyder Shah at the Sindh Secretariat on Wednesday to discuss enhancing bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

During the meeting, Chief Secretary Sindh Syed Asif Hyder Shah briefed the British Deputy High Commissioner on the ongoing efforts in infrastructure development, water supply, sewage, and governance in Sindh. He stated that the Sindh government is actively working on improving water supply, sewage, and road infrastructure to accommodate Karachi’s growing population.

“Pakistan, although only contributing less than 1 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.” Said CS Sindh

He highlighted that Pakistan incurred a loss of $32 billion from the 2022 floods and is vulnerable to future environmental risks, underscoring the urgent need for proactive measures to mitigate such disasters.

Furthermore, he expressed concerns about the adverse effects of environmental changes on the River Indus. Chief Secretary Sindh Syed Asif Hyder Shah informed that the federal-level Living Indus project has been initiated, after consultation with environmental experts, stakeholders, and provincial governments. He expressed a desire for technical assistance from the British government to address environmental changes.

Syed Asif Hyder Shah also mentioned investment opportunities in energy, investment, and agriculture sectors in Sindh for British investors. British Deputy High Commissioner Sarah Mooney expressed interest in collaborating on the Living Indus project and other projects related to environment. Chief Secretary Sindh presented traditional souvenir to the British Deputy High Commissioner.

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