The first charter plane arranged by Shanghai Electric and Air China took off from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on August 4, taking the first batch of construction team consisting of hundreds of Shanghai Electric’s workers, engineers and managers to Pakistan as part of the support to speed up the progress of Thar Block-1 Integrated Coal Mine Power project, a major energy project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The construction progress of the project has been interrupted by the pandemic-induced travel restrictions which have made it difficult for the workers to enter the country, causing a substantial shortage of the on-site workforce and slowing down the overall progress. The construction projects in Dubai and Pančevo are also facing the same challenge.

With the assistance and guidance of the Shanghai municipal government, Shanghai Electric coordinated with Air China to arrange multiple charter planes for thousands of technical and managerial staff to accelerate the progress of the three major projects. All flights are operated with the highest health and safety measures throughout the journey to guarantee the safety of all construction personnel. The first batch of over 4 tons supplies including personal protective equipment, daily necessities, office essentials and emergency drugs were also shipped to the destinations.

The team was received by the company’s officials at Jinnah International Airport on August 4 and will replace the local Chinese engineers and managers whose return were delayed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. All construction personnel will follow the quarantine measures in accordance with the local regulations upon arrival. The construction procedures are required to operate in line with the anti-pandemic guidelines, and the infection prevention measures have been put in place by Shanghai Electric to create a bio-secure working environment, protecting the safety and health of all on-site workers.

Located in Thar Desert in the southeastern part of Pakistan’s Sindh Province, Thar Block-1 Integrated Coal Mine Power Project covers an area of over 9,000 square kilometers with the coal mine expected to achieve an annual production capacity of 7.8 million tons and two 660-megawatt coal-fired power plants capable of providing affordable and reliable electricity for 4 million Pakistani households.

“As a priority project of both the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and CPEC, the completion of Thar Block-1 Integrated Coal Mine Power Project will go a long way in advancing Pakistan’s energy development. However, the COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented difficulty to the construction operations,” said Mr. Song Zaile, Executive Director of Thar Coal Block-1 Power Generation Company (PVT) Ltd (SPV of Shanghai Electric in Pakistan).

“To address the challenges, we have been working on many fronts to keep the disruption caused by this global health crisis at a minimum while adopting the upgraded anti-pandemic measures to prevent on-site virus transmission,” he added.