Rashakai SEZ all set to get off the ground

ISLAMABAD:  Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is all set to get operational from March this year following the completion of the first phase of development work, reports WealthPK.

Rashakai SEZ is also termed “Gwadar of the North” due to its connectivity and possibly extended potential of trade volume with Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries.

It is a flagship project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) situated on M-1 around 90 km from Islamabad and 55 km from Peshawar, covering an area of 1000 acres. It is being seen as the epitome of CPEC and a practical demonstration of the everlasting Pak-China friendship.

The pace of development work and the export-oriented industries being established here depicts the Chinese contribution and collaboration to strengthen Pakistan socio-economically, as more than 18 Pakistani companies with Chinese collaboration are about to start the production.

Ninety-five percent work on the development of infrastructure, along with provision of gas and electricity, has been completed at the zone to facilitate the industries.

Talking to WealthPK, Project Manager Rashakai SEZ Ahsan Laiq said the project was of core importance due to its proximity with the Afghan border and way towards the Central Asian countries.

The zone is hardly 30 km from Nowshera Dryport and 116 km from Torkham border, which makes it the most feasible and easiest site to enhance trade volume with Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries.

Ahsan said Rashakai Prioritized Special Economic Zone will prove a game changer project, as all the industries being established there are export-oriented, which will enhance Pakistan’s export potential.

He said one of leading features of Rashakai SEZ was that an electric vehicle manufacturing unit from China will also be established there, which will be a great milestone for the automobile sector.

The development cost of this project is $128 million. A total of 700 acre land has been allotted for the construction and development of factories and 76 acres for commercial plots.

Ahsan said the zone would be fully developed in three phases adding that the first phase was nearing completion, as 95 percent development work had been completed and the operations will start from March this year.

To cater to the electricity needs of the zone for construction purposes, initially 10MW electricity was provided, which was raised to 22MW. In phase two, a grid station of 120MW would be established to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the industries besides 30mmcu gas supply.

The project manager told WealthPK that 20 different industries were establishing their production units. The zone also has an effluent treatment and a solid waste management plant which will process the industrial waste before discharging it into the water channels.

Highlighting the leading industries being established at the zone, Ahsan said Century Steel, a Chinese-owned conglomerate, was establishing a state-of-the-art steel manufacturing facility, while G&S MEDCURE Pvt Ltd, which will cater to the needs of the health sector, was establishing a production unit. Globe Park Metals (Pvt) Ltd, a leading steel trader, has installed its production units, while smartphone manufacturing plants, scrap recycled units and export-oriented industry of food items, raw cotton, and other miscellaneous supplies are also being established at the zone.

“Leading Pakistani and internationally renowned industries and major large-scale industries are also taking keen interest in establishing their production units at the site. All these industries will play a pivotal role in the economic development of KP and overall strengthening of national economy,” he said.

It is worth mentioning that Rashakai Special Economic Zone is being established through public-private collaboration in which the Chinese Company China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) are partners.

The development expenditures are being met by the CRBC and the project is being established on the Chinese model, which will provide jobs to 250,000 people in the province directly and indirectly and facilitate the adjoining areas of Mardan and Swabi with business and job opportunities.

Rashakai SEZ project has expected investment potential from enterprises of around $1.68 billion. It is estimated that $494 million will come from foreign direct investment. Approximately $1.15 billion earning annually is expected from these projects.

According to Ahsan, the production units of automobiles, mechanical tools, marble-minerals, chemicals, clothing, general mercantile, sports equipment, electrical appliances, and food and beverages will be established at the zone.

He said the per acre land price at the zone was $150,000 and KPEZDMC will ensure all respective facilities are under one roof to facilitate the investors from Pakistan and abroad.