The two most serious issues that need to be addressed before Gwadar gets off to a proper start are water and power. When BR Research visited the city earlier this year, there was a visible shortage when it came to the provision of both utilities.
To take care of the city's eventual power needs, an imported coal 300MW is to be set up. Currently, the area gets 70MW via Iran, which is also used for Turbat and Panjgur, whereas Gwadar gets roughly 14MW.
After some hurdles in approval due to disagreements on demand projections, the project was finally given the go-ahead. The LoI was issued to China Communications Construction Company in May this year with an estimated cost of $600 million and a debt to equity ratio of 75:25. According to the project documents in the recently submitted generation license application to NEPRA, the power plant is expected to be completed by April, 2021 which is already extremely late.
However, out of the two, water is the most pressing issue with demand for the scarce resource at 4.6 million gallons per day. This demand is partially met through providing 2 to 2.5 million from Akra Kaur dam. According to the GDA's own estimates, the demand is forecasted to reach 12 million gallons per day. The plan is to eventually connect the city with nearby dams and reservoirs, which can bring about 7.5 million per day; but that is not materialising anytime soon.
There should be a directed effort to increase the pace of work on providing these basic utilities for the area to develop. Ultimately, the plan is to create industrial zones near the port city and that will require a great deal of power. Even as the port and free zone become operational, by 2020 Gwadar would require around 120 MW.
So perhaps, initially the idea to set up 600 MW instead of 300MW power plant would have been better although more power can also be imported from Iran. The country is already providing close to 100MW, and there is another project of the same wattage in the pipeline.
Given the importance of getting infrastructure and utilities for the port and industrial estates to start setting up, the pace of work has been generally slow to begin with. There should also be increased co-ordination between local bodies such as the Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), the Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), and the provincial and federal governments to make most of the opportunity to build the city from scratch