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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Wednesday expressed dismay over negligence by concerned departments in acquiring the remaining land for railway track from Gwadar Port to Railway Container Yard despite its approval in 2007.

The Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs, which met here with Rubina Khalid in the chair, was informed by the concerned officials that the project was approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in 2007.

The officials said that the Pakistan Railways is yet to acquire approximately 340 acres of land required for the project, adding the Railways Ministry is in negotiations with the district administration, Gwadar Development Authority, and Gwadar Port Authority for the acquisition of the remaining land.

The Railway officials highlighted the issue of five acres of railway land which overlapped during the construction of the Eastbay Expressway.

At this, Khalid said that the railway track is the backbone of the Gwadar project and should be completed at the earliest, adding the Railways Ministry should form a committee comprising relevant stakeholders and resolve the issue within 15 days.

The committee discussed the current status of the Gwadar Shipyard Project.

Dr Iram Anjum Khan, the secretary Maritime Affairs said that the Ministry of Defence Production initially marked the Kappar area for the shipyard, adding due to its location 50 kilometres away and above sea level; the ministry changed the site from Kappar to Sur Bandar in October 2023.

At this, Senator Khalid inquired why these factors were not considered beforehand, stating that the whole process reveals the incompetence of the department.

After getting no satisfactory answer, the committee referred the matter to the Senate standing committee on defence production for further deliberation.

The committee was also briefed on the hurdles in the execution of Korangi Fisheries Harbour Authority, modification of Fish Auction Hall, establishment of Business Park, and establishment of cold storage and freezing tunnels.

The officials said that the revised PC-I of the projects have been submitted to the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and approval is awaited.

Senator Rubina Khalid recommended the ministry also consider private-sector partnership for the timely completion of the projects.

While discussing the implementation status of recommendations relating to Inland Waterways Transport and amending the Pakistan Merchant Marine Shipping Policy and Pakistan Merchant Shipping Ordinance, the officials said that the idea of establishing Inland Waterways Transport has not been supported by all stakeholders, as some termed it wastage of resources.

Senator Rubina Khalid argued that every year, thousands of men and women lose their lives by drowning, emphasising the necessity of managing these waterways.

The committee directed the ministry to engage relevant stakeholders and decide to have an inclusive meeting on the issue.

However, the officials said that the committee proposed amendments to Pakistan Merchant Marine Shipping Policy and Pakistan Merchant Shipping Ordinance have been adopted and a detailed report will be submitted before the committee upon its completion.

Moreover, the committee discussed the performance and tenders issued by Karachi Port Trust in the last 10 years.

The officials said that KPT has issued 12 tenders for civil works and 26 tenders for P&D works in the last 10 years, from July 2013 to June 2023.

However, the major portion of the projects has been completed, and the remaining could not be initiated due to the unavailability of suitable bidders.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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