The shortage of water in Gwadar has been a constant challenge for both local and national authorities and with more people expected to work and live in Gwadar in the coming years, this problem desperately needs to be addressed.
Currently, Gwadar relies on profit hungry tanker companies to bring in water from the Meerani Dam in neighbouring Kech, and this has proved unsustainable, unreliable and inefficient. Consider also the dwindling supplies in the Meerani Dam and the situation becomes more desperate.
With the benefit of Federal and Chinese CPEC funding, three new dams have been completed in the last two years at Sawad, Shadi Kaur and Belar. Unfortunately, these have yet to be connected to the Gwadar city pipelines and cannot be totally relied on in the future, due to continuing droughts and climate change.
Desalination plants could prove to be a more effective answer and three such plants have already been built, but as the first of their kind in the region, they too have had their issues. Design errors, technical issues and the high cost of operations have meant that they are unable to supply the gallons of water expected.
On a positive note, Gwadar has recently received some very positive news. China’s Overseas Holding Company has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Balochistan with the aim of solving Gwadar’s water crisis. The city’s citizens will benefit from 300,000 gallons of clean drinking water to be made available daily at a much fairer and subsidised rate of 80 paisa per gallon.
There is also an expectation that developers in Gwadar will consider how they provide water to the communities that they are building. For instance, leading developers CPIC, have ensured that both of their developments (International Port City and China Pak Golf Estates) have desalination plants which will be built by leading Chinese construction companies.
The successful solution is likely to be a combination of resources. Developers playing their part, the installation of pipework to connect the three new dams to Gwadar City and the use of Chinese expertise to transform the current desalination plants into productive and efficient facilities. Whilst the reliance on water-tankers will unfortunately continue in the short term, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel and the investment from the Chinese into CPEC is a major boost.