ISLAMABAD - China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) early harvest projects have created direct employment for over 30,000 Pakistani engineers and workers, official data revealed.

According to the planning commission data available with The Nation, out of the total 38,000 jobs, under early harvest projects of the CPEC, around 8,000 or less than 25 percent were consumed by Chinese workers. Energy projects, under the CPEC portfolio, are the major employment contributor where 16,000 Pakistanis were hired as labourer and engineers, the data said. The Port Qasim Coal Power project is on the top of the list which created job opportunities for 5,000 Pakistanis.

The Sahiwal Coal Power Plant project and Zonergy Solar Power project stand second with 3,000 jobs for the natives. Meanwhile, official sources said that between 300 and 500 engineers were working on energy projects which would surely help in the transfer of know-how from the Chinese to locals. It will be helpful for future execution of energy projects as Pakistan will have its own trained human resource.

The execution of two more energy projects of Sukki Kinari and Karot would generate around 6,000 more jobs for Pakistani engineers and workers. “A huge number of Pakistani civil and electrical engineers could grab this opportunity where hydropower projects are under execution,” said officials.

Besides the energy sector, the CPEC transport infrastructure sector stands second in creating around 13,000 jobs for locals. The data shows that 9,800 Pakistanis were working on Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan Sukkur Section), the biggest infrastructure project under the CPEC. The data further shows that the Karakoram Highway Phase-II Havelian created jobs to 2,071 locals, the Orange Line Metro Lahore created employment for 956 and the fibre optic project created 580 jobs for Pakistanis.

The development of the free-zone project at Gwadar has created 404 direct jobs with additional 2,000 indirect employments. It is estimated that this project would create thousands of job opportunities for locals. The figures could grow significantly with more infrastructure projects expected to begin this year. With the start of work on the ML-1 project of Pakistan Railway, Gwadar airport, Eastbay Expressway at Gwadar and other road projects, the number of jobs will further increase for Pakistanis. Framework agreements for all these projects have been signed by both sides during One-Built, One-Road summit in China last month.

“These projects could further create up to 15,000 direct jobs this year,” officials said. “All companies are trying their level best to look for local engineers and labourers, fulfilling the social responsibility,” the officials said. In addition, the CPEC projects being implemented through the Public Sector Development Programme, particularly Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway Project, has also generated thousands of jobs for Pakistani workers.

Besides such a huge direct employment, the CPEC projects which are in construction phase have created thousands of indirect jobs and brought a boom for the construction industry as steel and cement manufacturers were fully engaged in multiplying their production. The officials said that the industrial cooperation phase to be started soon would be a real game changer. Relocation of Chinese industries could create hundred thousands of jobs for Pakistan skilled and non-skilled workers.

It is estimated that the employment opportunities for the local youth will maximise with the implementation of mega projects under the mid-to-long-term plan of the CPEC. The International Labour Organisation has estimated that the CPEC will support to create around 400,000 jobs while the Applied Economics Research Centre has estimated that the mega project was expected to create over 700,000 direct jobs between 2015 and 2030 and add 2 to 2.5 points to the annual economic growth of the country. The estimates of the planning commission show that the figure may go much higher as the CPEC would generate around 800,000 jobs over the next 15 years.