ISLAMABAD, March 24 : As the inauguration of Rashakai Special Economic Zone (RSEZ) is just around the corner, locals are optimistic that this flagship project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would change the fate and face of the area.
According to a report published by Gwadar Pro, RSEZ would attract local and foreign investors, generate development, create thousands of jobs and will provide economic and social services.
Farmanullah, 31, is an unemployed young man living in a small town adjacent to RSEZ. “Lots of unemployed youth would get jobs on their doorstep, Our village would also prosper,” he told Gwadar Pro. According to him, many people from the surrounding villages would get jobs in factories at RSEZ.
Spreading over an area of around 1,000 acres of land, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Managing Company (KPEZDMC) and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) are developing the zone.
Hamid Khan, a resident of Wali Interchange, said even before groundbreaking, the villagers have started receiving benefits. According to him, the access road from Wali Interchange to RSEZ zero point is beneficial for them as the villagers are now connected to the Islamabad Peshawar Motorway (M-1) via it.
RSEZ is connected to all the provinces of Pakistan through airport, dry port, railway station, motorway and highways. The zone is located at the confluence of five major districts of KP including Nowshera, Mardan and Swabi, Charsadda and Peshawar.
The connected districts possess fertile lands, which is suitable for growing different kinds of cash crops and vegetable. “The economic zone has predominant investment feasibility for industries in fruit and food processing and textile,” said Zahid Khan from Turo village in Mardan. He said that besides working in agricultural land, now the local would avail opportunity to work in food processing units in the economic zone.
Engineer Irshad Aslam from Dhobiano village of Swabi told Gwadar Pro that the locals would get skilled and semi-skilled jobs in industries. “Instead of hard physical labour, many of us would find white-collar jobs,” he said.
One can find several fruit vendors and small tea stalls at the Wali Interchange, which is close to zero point of RSEZ. Theirs clients are mainly labourers working on different construction sites in the area. “The ongoing construction activities have created jobs for us, while our children will certainly get sophisticated jobs within the economic zone in the future,” said Zahid, a fruit vendor.
RSEZ would house over 400 industries including garment and textile products, home building materials, general merchandize, electronics and electrical appliances, automobile and mechanical equipment. Several pharmaceutical companies exist in Nowshera, Mardan and Peshawar.
“We would certainly move to the economic zone,” Muhammad Asim, an official from a local pharmaceutical company, told Gwadar Pro, adding, “There is great opportunity for the local pharmaceutical companies to grow; the 10-year tax exemption in RSEZ is a real source of attraction”.
RSEZ is the best option to fit the qualified females of the area into the industries. Every year thousands of females are graduated from universities in KP but they do not find suitable jobs.
“Due to the Pashtun culture, our parents do not allow us to travel to other parts of the country in search of work. We can’t find jobs in our areas to earn a living, so most of us become dependent on others,”said Uzma Khan, who recently completed her master’s degree at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan.
According to her, the economic zone would accommodate thousands of women who would commute daily between their homes and their workplace. “RSEZ is actually a tool to empower the local women,” she said.