SHAMSUL GHANI shams_ghani@hotmail.com
Oct 19 - 25, 2009

With the multi-billion dollar Gwadar project far from being fully operational due partly to our own incompetence and partly to the conflicting interests of major global players, the functioning of Port Qasim is a boon to our economy, particularly the seaborne trade and industrialization. The Port being the economic hub of the country acts as a powerful channel for transmitting country's diversified economic activities to meaningful end products. Operational since early seventies, Port Qasim is the first industrial and commercial port of Pakistan. Managed by Port Qasim Authority (PQA), it is built on the coastline of Arabian Sea. It is located approximately 50 km away from Karachi city and 15 km apart from National Highway.

The project is spread over 12,000 acres of land out of which 1,000 acres are used for port activities while 11,000 acres are occupied by an industrial zones that carry in its fold a number of industrial projects of great economic importance. The port is connected to the National Railway through a 14 km long railway link comprising six tracks laid down in the close proximity of the berths. The Port undertakes:

1. Handling of seaborne trade,
2. Warehousing, and
3. Land and infrastructure facilities for setting industrial projects and units.

PQA is managed by a board of directors headed by the PQA chairman. Vice Admiral (R) M. Asad Qureshi is the present chairman. The Authority is manned by 1855 personnel. The Port today handles more than 40 per cent of country's seaborne trade. The Port comprises various single-purpose terminals in addition to a multi-purpose terminal MPT.


TERMINAL 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
1. Multi-purpose Terminal MPT 2270 2623 1435 2657 2104
2. Liquid Imports 1479 1635 1559 1714 1349
3. Liquid Exports 25 - - - -
4. Dry Exports 144 474 800 738 1549
5.Total Dry Cargo at MPT (2+3) 2414 3097 2315 3394 3672
6.Total Liquid Cargo at MPT (1+4) 1504 1635 1559 1714 1349
7. Total MPT Cargo (5+6) 3918 4732 3874 5108 5021
8. Number of Ships 245 254 254 288 322

Other terminals include FOTCO for the import (and export) of petroleum products, Engro terminal for the import of chemicals, IOCB for the import of raw material for Pak steel, Progas terminal for LPG imports, and Liquid Cargo terminal for edible oil imports.


. (000 tons)
Cargo Business 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09
1. Dry Cargo Imp 5611 5041 4669 5690 5429
2. Liquid Cargo Imp 6849 8637 10799 11221 11185
3. Total Import (1+2) 124 60 13678 15468 16911 16614
4.Weight of Containers 6977 7894 8881 9514 8419
5. Total (3+4) 19437 21572 24349 26425 25033
6. Total No of Ships 806 974 1051 1155 1238

The present chairman who took charge in May 2009 has set the following business goals:

1. Increased operational capability of PQA

2. Acquisition of powerful tugs and pilot boats

3. Capacity building

4. Deepening of Navigational Channel to allow berthing of deeper draught vessels

5. Upgrading of Port facilities

6. Provision of infrastructure facilities for all industrial zones

7. Improvement of Port efficiency to reduce the cost of doing business in line with the National Corridor objectives

The divergent trends in the global external markets and the totally overhauled world economic situation demands a rational and futuristic approach towards the management and functioning of projects like PQA.

As an aftermath of global financial meltdown, the sea tariff structure puts a big question mark on the viability of projects like Port Qasim. The wave of inflation that has hit the economy of our country during the last three years has immensely raised the cost of doing business cargo handling being no exception. Moreover, the dwindling global demand has resulted in the shrinkage of seaborne trade. The gravity model demands that distance should be the main plank of the external trade policy, which means that economies close to one another should cater to their mutual external trade needs. This gives rise to a situation of tariff-based competition. To survive in this situation, PQA will have to go for capacity building and improved infrastructure with a view to increasing the volume of business handled. Besides a competitive tariff structure, a safe maritime environment will have to be developed. This will require investment on an ongoing basis for which private sector will have to play an important role. This is heartening that the present chairman is well aware of the modern day challenges as he has recently said, "Ports today are compelled to adopt futuristic approach to cope with increasing demands for upgrading port facilities while maintaining competitive tariff".