Pakistan: Chinese Firms Halt Dam Projects Due to Security Concerns

Following a suicide attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, which tragically claimed the lives of five Chinese engineers, Chinese companies have made the decision to temporarily halt civil work at both the Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha Dams sites due to heightened security concerns.

This decision, reported by Geo News referencing The News, comes in the wake of another attack just a day prior, prompting a suspension of work at the Tarbela fifth Extension Hydropower Project as well.

The recent attack occurred on March 26 in Shangla, resulting in the deaths of six individuals, including five Chinese engineers who were working specifically on the Dasu Dam project. The attack took place when an explosive-laden vehicle collided with the bus transporting the engineers along the Karakoram Highway in the Bisham area.

As a precautionary measure, approximately 991 Chinese engineers engaged in both projects have been instructed to cease their activities, while local staff members have been advised to remain at home until further directives are issued, according to an official involved in the projects as cited by Geo News.

Notably, the Dasu Dam project, located in District Upper Kohistan, involves a workforce comprising 741 Chinese and around 6,000 local workers, contributing to the development of a 4,320 MW power facility. Despite the suspension at Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha, work on the Mohmand Dam project in the same region continues, with Chinese engineers remaining on-site.

Furthermore, the Power Construction Corporation of China, responsible for the Tarbela Extension Project (T5), has officially announced the cessation of work and subsequent layoff of all site workers and office staff members due to security apprehensions. The manager in charge emphasized that only essential staff, as determined by section heads, will be permitted to resume duties.

This recent attack on Chinese workers marks the second of its kind, with the first occurring on July 14, 2021, near the Dasu Dam site, resulting in the loss of nine Chinese engineers and four Pakistani workers and injuries to over 23 others, as reported by Dawn. These incidents underscore the precarious security situation in the region, prompting heightened caution among stakeholders involved in large-scale infrastructure projects.

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