Pakistan: Company halts work on power project after attack kills five Chinese nationals


Haripur [Pakistan]: The Chinese construction company working at the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project in Pakistan’s Haripur has suspended civil works and “laid off” over 2000 workers after five Chinese nationals were killed in a suicide attack in Shangla district, Dawn reported, citing official sources.

On March 26, five Chinese engineers working on the Dasu Dam perished as an explosive-laden vehicle hit the bus they were travelling in on the Karakoram Highway in the Bisham area. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The suspension of work on the 1530 megawatt Tarbela extension project (T5) was notified by the manager (administration) of the Power Construction Corporation of China. He also revealed in the notification that the project’s “all site workers and office staff members had been laid off until further orders due to security reasons.”
Dawn reported that the manager said only the staff members called by the heads of their respective sections would come to work.

When contacted, the general secretary of the Awami Labour Union at the Tarbela project Aslam Adil confirmed the development but insisted that under labour laws, the workers laid off hadn’t lost jobs and were entitled to receive half of their salaries until they resumed duties.

He said he hoped that the situation would return to normal in a few days, leading to the return of employees to work.
“Authorities are going to enhance the security of project employees on their demand,” he said. The union leader said the suspension of work won’t cause a “long delay” in T-5’s completion, which is slated for May 2026 with the assistance of the World Bank (USD 390 million) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (USD 300 million), Dawn reported.

The Wapda officials claimed that the project would begin power production before the 2026 deadline.
It may be added that Tuesday’s attack on the Chinese workers was second of its nature. The first such attack was carried out on July 14, 2021, at around 7.30 am, a few kilometres from Dasu Dam’s site in Kohistan, leaving nine Chinese engineers and four Pakistani workers dead while over 23 sustained injuries.

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