A Chinese Firm Halts Progress on Tarbela Extension Project

In a significant development, a Chinese company has decided to suspend civil construction activities at the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project, impacting over 2,000 workers. This decision follows the tragic incident of a suicide attack in the Shangla district. The terrorists targeted Chinese nationals, leading to casualties. The attack occurred on Tuesday and resulted in the deaths of five Chinese engineers. They were working on the Dasu Dam project, amplifying concerns over security in the region.

Suspension of Work and Layoffs

Official sources confirmed that the Power Construction Corporation of China, responsible for the Tarbela extension project, has officially announced the suspension of work. The administrative manager of the corporation cited security reasons for this decision. He revealed that all on-site workers and office staff will rest until further notice. 

However, it’s noted that only specific staff members instructed by their department heads are required to report for duty during this period.

Labor Laws and Employee Rights

Amidst the suspension of work, Aslam Adil, the general secretary of the Awami Labour Union at the Tarbela project, emphasized that workers laid off have certain rights under labor laws. He clarified that, despite temporary layoffs, these workers will receive half of their salaries until they resume their duties. 

Adil expressed hope for a swift resolution to the security concerns, allowing employees to return to their jobs.

Impact on Project Timeline

Despite the interruption in construction activities, authorities remain optimistic about meeting the project’s completion deadline. The Tarbela 5th Extension Project, with a capacity of 1530 megawatts, is crucial for Pakistan’s energy sector. 

Funding from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank underscores the project’s significance for energy development.

Security Measures and Legal Proceedings

In response to the security threat, measures are underway to enhance the safety of project employees. The incident also brings to light previous attacks on Chinese workers, prompting investigations and legal proceedings against the perpetrators. 

The involvement of foreign intelligence agencies has been alleged in previous attacks, highlighting the complex security dynamics in the region.

The decision to suspend work on the Tarbela extension project reflects the urgent need to address security challenges. As efforts continue to ensure the safety of workers and project completion, stakeholders remain vigilant in navigating the regional geopolitical landscape.