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Dhabeji Special Economic Zone – A game changer



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 Food Authority inks MoAs with ICCBS to ensure safe, hygienic, healthy food



KARACHI: Sindh Food Authority (SFA), Government of Sindh, has signed two Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi.

Sindh Food Authority signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Halal Certification Testing and Research Services (HCTRS) and the Industrial Analytical Center (IAC), ICCBS, University of Karachi.

This MoA aims to create a long-term framework of collaboration, cooperation, and development of a strong linkage between SFA and the research centers of the ICCBS for the testing of food products, which is in the interest of both institutions.

The SFA Director General Agha Fakhar Hussain and Prof. Dr. Farzana Shaheen, the Director of the ICCBS, University of Karachi, signed the agreement in a meeting held at the HEJ, Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi on Friday evening.

Among others who attended the meeting were officials from SFA Prof. Dr. Asad Sayyed, Dr. Naveed Bhutto, Dr. Seema, Danish Arshad, and officials from ICCBS, including Prof. Dr. Abid Ali, Prof. Dr. Syed Ghulam Musharraf, Prof. Dr. Shabana Simjee, Prof. Dr. Asmat Salim, Dr. Imran Malik, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, Dr. Shakil Ahmed, Jawaid Riaz, and others.

In his talk, the SFA Director-General praised the efforts made by the ICCBS administration to make this agreement possible in the interest of Sindh province. He also praised the industrial support and national services of the International Center (ICCBS).

He said the authority’s goal was to guarantee that the people of Sindh were fed in a safe, hygienic, and healthy manner by standards.

I want to have strong relations between SFA and the ICCBS, University of Karachi, he said, adding that SFA is trying to make all possible efforts to provide better food items to the people of Sindh.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Farzana Shaheen congratulated the officials of the SFA and ICCBS on the signing of the agreement. She hoped that this agreement would further strengthen the University’s HCTRS and IAC in the province.

Halal Testing Laboratory works to standardize and uplift the high-quality standard of nutrition & hygiene in Halal-certified food & other products by international export quality standards, she said.

Talking about IAC, the director said that IAC was doing their best to meet customer’s testing requirements with integrity, reliability, accuracy, precision of data, and timeliness of reports to achieve customer satisfaction and define specifications in compliance with ISO/IEC Laboratory Accreditation System and ISO 9001Quality Management System.

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DG Sindh Food Authority Agha Fakhar disburses certificates



KARACHI: Director General of the Sindh Food Authority Agha Fakhar Hussain distributed certificates among the participants at the HEJ, University of Karachi.

The certificates were given away to the participants of the highly prestigious Training Programme over Halal Food and Meat Detection Methods Training and Inter-laboratory Comparison for Organisation of Islamic cooperation (OIC) countries (2022-SMIC-006) held at Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in hybrid format on October 23, 2023. The certificate were signed by the SMIIC General Secretary.  

Prof. Dr. Syed Ghulam Musharraf (Tamgha-e- Imtiaz) and Prof. Dr. Farzana Sheen attended the event.

The SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries) is an intergovernmental and one of the 17 affiliated organizations of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). Its primary focus is on standardization and metrology technical elements.

Pakistani candidates participated through online sessions. The participants were selected through a detailed procedure and tests.

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Sindh Food Authority appoints Dr Rashida Irtifaq as its Ambassador



KARACHI: The Sindh Food Authority (SFA) is to appoint prominent educationist Professor Dr Rashida Irtifaq Ali as Honorary Senior Food Safety and Hygiene Ambassador.

In light of this significant appointment, a ceremony has been scheduled for January 9, 2024 at Jinnah Auditorium Dr AQ Khan Institute of Bio-Technology and Genetic Engineering, University of Karachi.

Caretaker Chief Minister Sindh Justice (R) Maqbool Baqar, Secretary Food, Government of Sindh and other dignitaries will attend the event to support the vision of the Sindh Food Authority.

Professor Dr Rashida Irtifaq Ali has been an integral part of Karachi University for the past fifty years where she not only fulfilled her teaching responsibilities but also played a pivotal role in establishing the Department of Food Sciences and Technology.

At the age of 85, Dr Rashida Ali continues to serve in academia and the industry, demonstrating an unparalleled commitment to education.

While talking to Sindhnews, Sindh Food Authority’s Director General Agha Fakhar Hussain said that the food authority had recognized contributions of Professor Dr Rashida Irtifaq by appointing her as the Honorary Senior Food Safety and Hygiene Ambassador, a position that reflects her expertise and dedication to the field.

The appointment of Dr Rashida Irtifaq will not only acknowledge her achievements but will also provide an opportunity to raise awareness among university students about the principles of health preservation related to food consumption.

In the event, Dr Rashida Irtifaq will also be presented with a shield by the Sindh Food Authority as a token of appreciation for her outstanding contributions, says Agha Fakhar.

The Sindh Food Authority was established in April 2018 under the SFA Act 2016 and the Authority has been established Under Section-3 (1) of the Act ibid with the mandate to provide safe, hygienic and health food to the people of Sindh, he adds.

The Authority is performing its functions accordingly as per the Sindh Food Authority Act 2016 but the major hurdle is the lack of awareness among general masses and food handlers at large, regarding the food safety and hygiene principles.

The authority’s mandate to provide safe, healthy and hygienic food to the people of Sindh can not only be achieved witht eh coercive measures but it requires general awareness campaign among the masses and food handlers and the issue demands the participation of all segments of the society, the DG concluded.

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