It has an ambitious plan to make Karachi a landmark on the map of efficient and modern ports.

SHABBIR H. KAZMI, Special Correspondent
May 28 - Jun 03, 2007

Karachi is commonly referred to as Gateway to Pakistan and also carries with it a great heritage. One such heritage dates back to the establishment of the Karachi Port Trust over a century ago i.e. in 1887. Undoubtedly, the port is a source of livelihood to millions of people associated with it in one way or the other. It is this linkage that provides the port the momentum to move forward, to excel and to provide a user-friendly working environment.

The active participation of all the stakeholders contributes to the progress attained. KPT is endeavoring to transform Karachi Port into a modern, competitive, user-friendly and a transshipment hub of the region. Responding to global demands, KPT is expanding its services by installing modern and latest on and off shore equipment, facilitating swift vessel maneuvering and expeditious cargo handling with competitive costs.

KPT considers all stakeholders partner in progress and, therefore, invites all of them to join hands for the development with a positive mind and be ready to accept all challenges. Together they can excel and make the port a landmark on the map of efficient and modern ports.

On the instructions of President Musharraf, Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is investing heavily for the rehabilitation and construction of roads/flyovers, to resolve the traffic problem of mega city of Karachi. The plan includes construction of the Hino Chowk flyover linking Korangi industrial area, re-moduling of Molvi Tamizuddin Khan Road, upgrading of M. A. Jinnah Road up to Keamari and improvising Mai Kolachi bypass up to submarine Chowk.

A detailed feasibility study for deepening of channel was conducted by an international consultant M/s HR Wallingford of UK, which recommended 13.5 meter depth to cater for 12 meter draught vessels at all tides. This project has been launched with an estimated cost of US$ 30 million (Rs 1.75 billion).

Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) is already operational at the West Wharf; it has an annual capacity of 350,000 TEU, with modern Gantry Cranes, RTGs and many other associated equipment. The KICT has undertaken further expansion to the two adjacent berths and investing US$ 55 million.

Annual handling of bulk cargo at the port is 3 million tons. Private sector has been invited to set up a dedicated bulk cargo terminal at East Wharves. KPT will provide 630 m. quay wall from berths 10-13, along with 215,000 sq. m. of terminal area. The cost of project is estimated at US$ 15-20 million.

Karachi Port has three oil piers. Two oil piers, OP-I and OP-III are relatively new constructions, whereas the 1966 vintage OP-II was designed for only 35,000 DWT tankers with 3 million tons annual handling capacity. After reconstruction it shall have the capability to handle 90,000 dwt tankers, with 14.7 m depth and 8 million tons capacity through modern loading and unloading facilities. This shall enhance KPT's liquid product handling capacity from the present 19 million tons to 24 million tons per annum. Contract for its reconstruction was awarded to M/s China Harbour Engineering at a cost of Rs 1.31 billion.

The present PAPCO White Oil Pipeline plan originates from the single FOTCO oil berth at Port Qasim and terminates at Kot Addu. This pipe routing will isolate KPT's three modern oil berths from handling any white oil cargo for upcountry. KPT, therefore, on its own initiative, has had a study conducted to integrate Karachi Port's infrastructure for liquid products handling with the national infrastructure. This means connecting Keamari to Port Qasim facilities of Zulfiqarabad Oil Terminal, Bossicor Refinery, and the PAPCO pipeline.

As the new generation of container ships comes on the drawing boards, Karachi Port takes the initiative of bracing itself to handle and cater to fourth and fifth generation ships. This involves development of deep draught berths and due to its strategic location Keamari Groyne is the natural choice. The berths shall be more than 16 meter deep, catering to over 300 meter long vessels.

Setting up of a satellite facility in the vicinity of the port, circumscribing all the port requirements is a recent concept all over the world. For such a project KPT has allocated 100 acres for development of a cargo village in the first phase with individual areas catering to containers, general and bulk cargo, processing plants, customs and other related facilities. It will also have a direct access to M-10 and Lyari Expressway. The project cost is estimated around US$ 250 million.

KPT has also undertaken reconstruction of NMB Wharf. This facility, which was nearly hundred years old, has been re-built. The wharf is 600 meters long and is used for berthing country crafts. Its reconstruction cost was about Rs 165 million.

To keep pace with the upgrade of various facilities the old crafts are also being replaced. KPT has procured a new dredger with 6,000 cum hopper capacity, 2 hopper barges, 2 harbour tugs, 2 water barges, an anchor hoist vessel, 2 pilot boats and a dredger tender.

Addressing the water shortage problem of the city, Karachi Port Trust has taken up setting up of desalination plants. A pilot project with 100,000 to 500,000 gpd is being launched and later a plant of capacity ranging from 3-25 mgd capacity. The project shall be taken up on BOT for which KPT has allocated land.

Keeping in view the dearth of world-class recreational facilities in the city KPT is offering a BOT project to establish a 500 ft high Port Tower with commercial-cum-recreational center. Integrating into Karachi's skyline, the main feature of the venture shall be a revolving restaurant, a viewing gallery offering a panoramic view of the coastline and the city. The tower is planned to be located at the Clifton shoreline.

Another project is the establishment of a Food Street, at Natives Jetty Bridge and its adjoining area. This scenic coastal stretch has ample area for landscaping, walkways and joy rides. It also has access to the Cheena Creek. Construction work on the project is going on.

Amongst the maze of development projects KPT remains cognizant of its social obligations and welfare of its workers. In line with the policies of government regarding poverty alleviation, KPT has launched a housing scheme for the welfare of KPT and Dock Labour Boards workers. The Port Town will be spread over 500 acres, at KPT land in Hawks Bay and shall consist of 13,000 independent units. It will be a model township with all civic amenities.

KPT awarded Pakistan International Container Terminal project on BOT basis in June 2002. This terminal at berths on East Wharf has 600 m quay wall with 13.5 meter depth, and 450,000 TEUs capacity. The core financiers include the IFC and the OPEC Fund. This is the first project the OPEC has financed in Pakistan. PICT has offered 20% of its shares through Karachi Stock Exchange.

It is, therefore, only logical that this heritage should be carried forward into realizing a vibrant future for the port and that is exactly what its present employees and users are striving for.