CPEC power block

Chinese company slows down major transmission line project 

The CPEC has rightly been presented  as a make or break project, one that would provide a much-needed force-multiplier boost to the national economy. It also impacts decisively on the country’s direction as a reborn Silk Route, and indeed on its future regional and global standing. Realizing this, China and Pakistan have gone out of their way to smooth over arising problems and obstacles. Fear of Pakistan’s quantum economic leap catalyzed by the CPEC, is also the reason why regional countries, no doubt acting on the ‘good neighbourly’ policy, and some farther afield, oppose it tooth and nail. But the real and present danger to the CPEC lies in our own deficiencies of bureaucratic red-tape, indecision, and ultimately paucity of bold will and drive.The rulers are totally immersed in court cases, but a severe lack of expertise in the intricate art of drawing up water-tight international contracts and their arbitrational framework, also explains our stalled ventures, which has cost the moth-eaten economy millions of dollars in compensation. As the overworked cliché goes, ’we have seen the enemy and it is us’.

According to a news report, the pivotal $2 billion, 878 kilometers, high-voltage transmission line from Matiari in Sindh to Lahore, capable of distributing 4,000 megawatts has reached a blind-alley, with the concerned Chinese company either slowing down or halting the earlier full-speed –ahead pace of the project. The Chinese want setting up of an emergency revolving fund for a certain sum to cover their delayed bill payments, for the Pakistan government to accept operational and maintenance responsibility, but the latter is procrastinating on these matters, fearing that the six-month delay (May-December 2020) in the completion of power plants whose output is to be dispensed by the Matiari-Lahore line, will involve a loss of billions. Hence the government’s indecision, or total paralysis, which also puts the second-stage Port Qasim-Faisalabad line at risk. The matter must be settled swiftly, to avoid a disastrous diplomatic and compensation situation, surpassing  even the Reqo Dik and Karkey Karadeniz Uretim arbitrations. Stoic Chinese patience should not be pushed too far