KARACHI: A conglomerate of two leading Chinese construction companies, China Railway Engineering Corporation and Sinotec, has offered to construct the Gwadar-Khunjrab Rail Link at an estimated cost of Rs250 billion. This cost includes Rs160 billion for infrastructure and Rs90 billion for locomotives on electric traction. This investment is designed on a four-year, soft-loan term basis.
The offer was made to Minister for Railways Khwaja Sa’ad Rafique on behalf of the consortium in a detailed presentation carried out by Song Shuan Ping. The loan can be treated as a professional loan, commercial loan or a grant and will be payable in seven years.
Pointing out the strategic importance of Gwadar-Khunjrab Rail Link, Ping listed a number of benefits which could be availed once the project was operational. “The main aim of the link is to connect the Central Asian Republics with the Pakistan Railways Network,” said Ping. “This will immensely improve trade relations between China and Pakistan.”
Ping further pointed out that this rail link can be used to supply oil from the Persian Gulf to Pakistan. Additionally, this network will bring tourism in Pakistan and create employment in Balochistan.
While presenting their proposal, the representatives of the consortium suggested using electric traction as compared to the currently used diesel traction. They added that the use of electric traction will bring an added benefit of electricity on trains and railway stations. The team pointed out that electric traction has substantial benefits of approximately Rs32 billion per annum which included saving fuel cost, less staff required and elimination of power vans.
Rafique appreciated the offer by the Chinese companies. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has highlighted the importance of the Gwader-Khunjrab Rail link several times,” said Rafique. “The offer will be given serious consideration and a decision will be reached soon.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2013.
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