China-Pakistan Economic Corridor improves local infrastructure, people's life
Local residents in Pakistan are said to be witnessing significant changes in their live, 2-years after the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor program.
The project, a key element of the Chinese government's "Belt and Road" initiative, was officially launched in 2015 during Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Pakistan.
The multi-billion US dollar plan includes building up infrastructure along a route linking the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang to the southwestern Pakistani port Gwadar.
Muhammad Nisar Khan, general manager of a section of the CPEC project, says the building boom underway along the route has created a lot of opportunities.
"The locals are being skilled with construction of these mega projects, with respect to construction of bridges, tunnels, and other protection establishments involved in these projects, so we are seeing a lot of things being transferred from the Chinese, which goes in the benefits of this nation," said Muhammad.
50-year old Bashir Ahmed is a security guard at the port of Gwadar.
He suggested construction at the port to accommodate the CPEC program has also created opportunities for his 5 children.
"My Chinese friends work very hard. They helped us build a good primary school. Our children all study there. They also helped us build homes to improve our living conditions. Now many engineering projects are under construction. The Chinese Overseas Port Company works very fast. And every project, including the construction of the free zone is making fast progress. Hope other problems can be solved rapidly here," Bashir said.
Construction at the Port of Gwadar includes expanding it to accommodate a free-trade zone, which is expected to be operational in 2030.
Apart from the work being done at Gwadar, Chinese firms are working on expanding and refurbishing the 13-hundred kilometer long Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world, which connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram Mountains.
The highway project is being led by the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
The project has not only improved local traffic conditions but also created around 25-hundred jobs for locals along the route.
"I'm working here and getting very good experience. I have learned a lot since I came here. Now I can operate the main machines, learn cutting and welding. And also I can operate crane," said a worker at the construction site.
"The construction of the highway makes us not afraid to go out anymore. In the past, when we traveled to other cities, we always faced traffic problems. We worried about landslide that would cause deaths, traffic jam. Sometimes, it took us more than one week to reach the destination. When the road is completed, we will be able to reach there in only several hours," said another.
The Economic Corridor project is also said to be helping increase security in the region, as the Pakistani military has deployed numerous resources along the route to protect the workers and infrastructure they're building.