ISLAMABAD: The life of Asif Raza, a commerce graduate, suddenly changed two years ago when he got an interview call.
While excited at the prospect of a job, he tried not to pay attention to questions at the back of his mind about the source of the call: the Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO).
The Chinese construction and engineering company that is designing and building generation and transmission infrastructure in Pakistan.
“I was not much excited after the call because I did not have any reference or backing to get a job,” the 31-year-old told Xinhua recently referring to the culture of graft and favours when handing out jobs in the country. “But I went for the interview anyway, considering that this is a Chinese company and would definitely select employees on merit,” he added.
A week after the interview, Raza managed to land a job as an assistant manager of a department at the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant — designed and constructed by the company.
“It was a pleasant surprise for me to get the job. It brought stability to my life, and now I am very happy and satisfied with my career,” Raza said, adding that it had also increased his trust in China.
Jointly developed by SEPCO and Shandong Ruyi Technology Group Co., the 1,320 megawatt Sahiwal Coal Power Plant started production in May last year.
It is the first major energy project which uses the latest, environment-friendly, supercritical technology under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It had been completed and started full operations in a record time for Pakistan.
Apart from powering thousands of houses, the Sahiwal power plant has also provided direct jobs to over 3,000 locals in different fields, including engineers, technicians, supervisors and labourers, during its construction period.
Like Raza, thousands of Pakistanis have found work as China unleashed a flood of projects — large and small — under the multi-billion-dollar CPEC, a comprehensive package of cooperative initiatives and projects encompassing regional connectivity, information network infrastructure, energy cooperation, industries, agricultural development, poverty alleviation, tourism and financial cooperation.
Planning and Development Ministry’s Spokesperson Asim Khan said that over 30,000 people have so far been employed in different projects under the CPEC which will bring more and more tangible benefits to local workers in the coming days.
Chinese Deputy Head of Mission Zhao Lijian, who was recently named as the focal person on CPEC power projects, told Xinhua that around 60,000 Pakistanis are working on different Chinese projects in Pakistan, including those under the CPEC.
Lijian confirmed that Chinese government has received feasibility reports for special economic zones and that Beijing was currently evaluating it, adding that it will take some time to set up the special economic zones.
China’s investment of billions of US dollars in Pakistan has also brought good fortune for residents of Gwadar, once a sleepy fishing town located on the shores of the Arabian Sea next to the Pakistan-Iran border.
Mohammad Nazeer, who had been jobless for years in the town too now has a regular job.
“My years-long hunt for job and sufferings ended in July last year after I was appointed by the Chinese as an assistant supervisor at the Gwadar Port,” Nazeer told Xinhua via telephone, adding “my life has changed after getting a job.”
Last year, China Communications Construction Company Chairman Liu Qitao had said that development at Gwadar had created as many as 20,000 direct and indirect jobs to locals. Xinhua
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2018.
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