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The "Makran Coastal Highway" Project

August 13, 2001- The daily "The News International" News Paper

The Makran Coastal Highway project will help in establishing better commerce and trade relations with the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, particularly, the central Asian republics, besides, raising the living standard of the local people. Pakistan has a coastal belt of about 800-km from Karachi to the international border with Iran. The portion from Hub near Karachi up to Jiwani is called Makran Coast. There are small ports of Ormara, Pasni, Gwadar and Jiwani along the coast.

The coastline, west of Karachi, was devoid of appropriate infrastructure since long, thereby, depriving the region of socio-economic development. In the past no government had ever paid any attention to the downtrodden masses of this area, whose economic conditions, if lifted through a little attention and some constructive work, could contribute to the entire economy of Pakistan.

Before last year, only a dirt track existed along the coast, which was a nightmarish journey, also creating hurdles in shipment of seafood to Karachi from Balochistan's coastal areas. "The development of Gwadar Port and infrastructure along the Makran Coast is key to boost the national economy," said Brig Shabbir Ahmed, Commander, Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), which is constructing the two sections of the highway.

Last year on July 17, the construction on section-I of the coastal highway -- Liari-Ormara -- was started and till now 40 km has been completed. The FWO, hopes to complete another 65 km road by October next. The work of Section-I is scheduled to complete by July 2003. After inauguration by Gen Pervez Musharraf on August 17, construction work on section-III -- Pasni-Gwadar -- will be started.

By July 1 this year, the FWO has completed following works: embankment - 105 km, sub-base - 61 km, base - 50 km, black top - 40 km, bridges - 6, culverts - 112 and sinology - 15 km. The start point of this section is Sajjad Shaheed Chowk, named after an Army soldier who died during initial reconnaissance, and the end point is Ormara.

The regional economy of this area is largely based on fishing with prospects of a substantial growth, following of fish harbour at several locations ie, Pasni, Gwadar etc. Impetus to the region will also be provided by the construction of the naval harbour at Ormara and the third deep-sea port of Pakistan at Gwadar. The construction of water storage dam on the Hingol River would also result in an increase in agricultural output in the area.

In addition tourism will also flourish as Makran Coastal Road project would link Karachi -- the gateway to Pakistan -- with coastal areas of the country. The Makran Coastal Road would provide an access to the Naval harbour base at Ormara and would also provide an easy access to newly emerged central Asian republics.

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