COVID-19 : Inadequate workforce to affect CPEC

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STAFF REPORT

ISLAMABAD: Inadequate supply of workforce in wake of COVID-19 could affect China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as in the case of other sectors of national development.

Gwadar Pro App quoting Li BiJian, China’s consul-general based in Karachi, said no sector could escape from the effects of the deadly disease. The risk of contraction of the virus may impact negatively on the steady supply of the work force for CPEC projects.

Shielding the work force at every CPEC project from contraction of the virus forms the top priority at present.

Along with the rise of confirmed cases, in case some cities or regions become the epicenter and large number of people are infected, these will surely add more pressures to the management of each project.

If there occurs infection, tough measures of isolation as well as prevention will be applied which will impact in varying degree on the implementation of the projects based on how many people will be affected. This may lead to the risk of reduction of work force.

Some replacements may not materialise and some expired visas and passports may not be renewed in due course. On the other hand, the local employees form the bulk of the work force of the projects, there is a high risk that the current status quo may not be maintained and replacements may be delayed. These will more or less impact the operation and implementation of the projects.

Ever since the outbreak of the epidemic early this year, every project has been taking stringent preventive measures with strong support rendered by the Pakistan Federal and Provincial governments together with the Special Protection Forces.

The Chinese side has been taking strictest measures to screen and check the inbound personnel from China, and so far there is not a single imported case from China. And Zero contraction target has occurred and maintained in all projects till now. And all the projects are operating smoothly according to schedule.

Secondly, the import and shipment of the equipment, spare parts, materials, etc., may not be made on time and may affect the smooth operation, and cause delays in implementation of some projects. The lock-down of the cities and provinces, and closure of government and business offices may cause delays in clearance by the customs, handling and transporting of the relevant goods.

Thirdly, the pandemic may cause many legal issues based on force majeure. This may add more burdens to the relevant companies.

In short, the less the pandemic prolongs the smaller the effect on CPEC. If the pandemic prolongs a longer period of time, the bigger the effect will be. But one thing is clear and that is also the advantage Pakistan has, the quick recovery of China after her winning the preliminary battle against the pandemic,  Li BiJian added.