For the past 15 years, local fishing boats have laid under the open sky in Pasni Fish Harbour, damaged by high waves and hurricanes, and causing a loss of millions of rupees to the local fishermen.
In 2010, the Japanese government gave Rs.800 million to the government of Balochistan for the rehabilitation of Pasni Fish Harbor. Why has this money not been spent so far?
Why has the restoration of Pasni Fish Harbor been delayed for the past 15 years, despite the untraceable loss of Rs.26 crore from the Japanese grant?
After all, what obstacles does the government of Balochistan face in the restoration of Pasni Fish Harbor, adding to the problems of local fishermen?
These are some of the questions that have caused great concern to the local fishermen of Pasni, due to the lack of seriousness and inattention on the part of the Balochistan government.
Pasni Fish Harbor is the only economic hub in Pasni, the largest tehsil in Gwadar district. The harbor is currently falling into disrepair due to the lack of care or concern from the Balochistan government. The sole source of livelihood of 90% of the population depends on fishing and fishing industries.
However, this fishermen’s city at the foot of Gwadar’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is instead becoming a gateway to unemployment due to the government’s negligence.
Pasni Fish Harbor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in 1989. The harbor cost Rs. 445 to construct and covers an area of approximately 100,000 meters. It included an approach channel, harbor basin and berthing area with proper facilities, buildings, water supply, a cargo jetty, four landing berths, market halls and a harbor authority building.
After the establishment of the harbor, the fishing sector in Pasni began to grow rapidly, which resulted in employment for a large number of local people.
Proceeds from the Pasni harbor made it a self-sufficient entity, but in later years no attention was paid to the maintenance or restoration of the harbor. As a result, the now dysfunctional jetty at Pasni Harbor has sunk into 1.5 million cubic meters of silt.
A delegation of the CPEC Parliamentary Committee visited Pasni in July 2020 and hinted at the rehabilitation of the Pasni Fish Harbor, including the jetty. However, one long year interval has passed with no significant progress made on the restoration of the fishing harbor.
The recent visit of the Balochistan chief secretary was due to member of the National Assembly Lasbela Gwadar Muhammad Aslam Bhootani, who met the Prime Minister Imran Khan and apprised him of the problems of fishermen and also demanded notice from the government on the assembly floor.
On July 4 2021, Chief Secretary Balochistan Motahar Niaz Rana, Secretary Planning Commission Islamabad Amir Yaqub Sheikh, Secretary Fisheries Shahid Saleem Qureshi, Commissioner Makran Shah Irfan Gharshin, Director General Fisheries Tariq-ur-Rehman Baloch and other officials visited the Pasni Fish Harbour on the special instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan. They listened to the problems of the local fishermen in an open forum on the premises and also talked to them.
Prior to the open forum, Managing Director (MD) Pasni Fish Harbor Authority Babar Khan briefed Chief Secretary Balochistan Rana about the implementation of Pasni Fish Harbor Authority project and briefed him about the jetty rehabilitation plan. For the first time in the briefing, Pasni Fish Harbor Authority officials acknowledged that dredging in the past had been a complete failure, and cost Rs.26 crore.
The MD of the Pasni Fish Harbor Authority told the Chief Secretary Balochistan during the briefing that the completion of the rehabilitation project would provide an opportunity to 80,000 fishermen in the area to participate in fishing activities while more than five thousand fishing boats would be activated. The chief secretary Balochistan was also informed that the rehabilitation of Pasni jetty could be resumed by purchasing a dredger machine, re-surveying the breakwater and designing a new jetty.
In the briefing given to the Chief Secretary Balochistan, the officials of Pasni Fish Harbor Authority explained that in 2015, the dredging exercise, in which more than Rs.25 crore and Rs.80 lakh was spent, had been a failure. However, the reasons behind the failure have not been stated and it has not been determined who caused financial loss to the government of Balochistan due to their mistakes.
The National Accountability Board (NAB) inquired for four years against corruption and other irregularities of losing this huge sum of grant money awarded by the Japanese government. No one responsible was caught by the NAB.
The Japanese government released the grant of Rs. 80 crore in December 2010 for the Pasni Fish Harbor Rehabilitation Project, which was approved that same year. A project management unit was also set up to run the project
It is known by reliable sources that a large amount has been spent on the rehabilitation project, as well as the salaries of the staff of Pasni Fish Harbor Authority. But until today, Pasni Fish Harbor Authority officials have not been able to explain the number of employees working on the rehabilitation project or whether staff are currently performing their duties.
According to reliable sources, out of the 80 million rupees of the Japanese grant, Rs. 26 crores have been spent on the rehabilitation of the Pasni jetty. Despite the money being spent, the condition of Pasni Fish Harbor has not changed even one per cent.
Local fishermen and businessmen in the fishing sectors believe that the Pasni Fish Harbor Authority should be designated under the Gwadar Port Authority. However, the Balochistan government opposes this restructuring and further complicates the rehabilitation of the harbor. As revised by the Planning Commission Islamabad, much of the still outstanding amount from Project Cycle 1 (PC-1), amounting to Rs. 1.13 billion, is present in the accounts of the government of Balochistan till today.