Gwadar: Several projects under China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) umbrella continue to face considerable delays due to frequent protests by the locals in Gwadar over denial of basic services and failed executions by governments, authorities and companies involved from both China and Pakistan.

The on-ground progress continues to remain disappointing as numerous crucial projects under the USD 60 billion CPEC umbrella have either missed their completion deadlines or are facing extensive delays.

According to Islam Khabar, Pakistan's southern coastal city of Gwadar and its port were once billed as the future hub of global trade under CPEC, however, the port city project has turned into a model of failed execution for governments, authorities and companies involved from both China and Pakistan.

Infrastructure projects running behind schedule include Gwadar Port Phase II expansion, New Gwadar International Airport, construction of breakwaters, Pak-China Friendship Hospital, the 300MW coal-based power plant and freshwater treatment, supply & distribution project, the reports said, adding that the locals in Gwadar are often seen protesting over denial of basic services as the majority of the local residents are poor fishermen and in many cases, the over-stretched construction activities have only added to their problems.

Moreover, their struggle to have access to vital necessities including decent health and education has become a severe problem catering to which the administration of Gwadar Development Authority hospital is also experiencing difficulty in retaining employees because of the non-availability of water for them.

The port area does not have its own power generation and it needs to import its electricity from neighbouring Iran, Islam Khabar reported, saying the situation cannot be expected to ease soon as the proposed coal-based power plant is held up due to coordination problems.

To date, only four major CPEC projects are reported to have been completed here. These include East Bay Expressway, Smart Port City Master Plan, construction of Free Zone Phase-1 and the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute which was built with a USD 10 million Chinese grant.

Notably, in Nov 2021, Pak Senate's Standing Committee on Planning and Development expressed concern over the slow pace of projects in the port city. The committee had visited Gwadar for an on-site meeting on CPEC projects and observed that progress on infrastructure and basic facilities was not enough to lure local and international investors.

Furthermore, the shrewd Chinese approach towards additional funding has affected the projects falling under CPEC Phase-II including the socio-economic ones as it has forced the South-Asian country to be doubly sure if expanding local infrastructure through Chinese investment is a step worth taking.

Baluchistan is located in the southwest of Pakistan and constitutes half of the country's territory. Demographically though it constitutes a mere 3.6 per cent of the total population of Pakistan. The province is home to over 13 million people, mostly Baloch.

Baluchistan is Pakistan's largest, but least developed province. It is one of the most important provinces of Pakistan because of the high concentration of natural resources including gas, oil, copper and gold.

However, despite the richness in natural resources, Baluchistan continues to remain the poorest province of Pakistan.

In 2015, China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project in Pakistan worth USD 46 billion, of which Baluchistan is an integral part.

It would link Pakistan's southern Gwadar port in Baluchistan on the Arabian Sea to China's western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East. The Baloch have opposed China's increasing involvement in the province.

The CPEC has not benefited the people of Baluchistan while people of other provinces enjoy the fruits of the mega project. This has led to widespread protests as the Chinese are viewed as encroachers who are squeezing out all the wealth from the region.