KARACHI PORT ACHIEVES 12.5 METERS DRAFT

SHIP OWNERS & CONTAINER TERMINALS WILL GET BENEFITS.

AMANULLAH BASHAR
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

June 20 - 26, 2011

Karachi Port has achieved the draft level of 12.5 meters, which is yet another milestone in the incessant development of the port while the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) management is endeavoring to reach the depth of 14 meters, which is the maximum for the vessels calling at the ports in the region.

The current draft level is bound to provide enormous benefits to ship owners who could now avail discounts through deployment of mother vessels and can also take the benefits of economies of the scales.

Nasreenul Haq, the Chairperson of KPT has said that the current trend of revamping and modernizing ports and port related facilities have become a global imperative. The KPT is aware of this phenomenon and endeavor diligently to keep pace with it. The chairperson said "our singular interest centers on the quick turnaround and ability to match the ever deepening draft of modern post panamax ships. KPT has all along been cognizant of this vital development and has made this an integral part of our conceptual vision, she said.

FACTS

The cargo handled by KPT in 2004-05 was over 28 million tons while in 2009-2010 it increased to over 41 million tons, a whopping increase of more than 45 percent. Similarly, KPT handled over 0.9 million TEUs in 2004-2005 while this figure has gone up to over 1.47 million TEUs in 2009-2010 while provision of competent services and facilities has also led to an increase in the number of ships visiting Karachi Port from 1768 in 2004-05 to 2146 in 2009-10 and GRT has increased from 34 to over 35 million for the above period.

Though our growth is indeed laudable but we could not have achieved it in isolation, she said and attributed the tangential growth to devoted allies and the terminal operators who have also played an important role in modernization of the port facilities and handling. Paying rich tributes to the contribution of the partners, she expressed with confidence that we look forward to successful association in times to come. Together we can achieve what we strive for fulfilling national trade expectations, said the chairperson.

All ports wish to attract mother ships but are sometimes constrained by limitations on draft causing hindrance in achieving optimum utilization of bigger ships. Therefore, our recent initiative is aimed at providing greater specialization coupled with far less self-reliance for transnational shipping that would go a long way in boosting larger movement of goods between countries.

It is our good fortune that Karachi with its naturally endowed maritime borders and well defined contiguity to land routes contains adequate potential to attract larger mother ships for national cargo along with providing facilities of transshipment of goods to other countries by both sea and land.

"It is our earnest desire to expand the services rendered by KPT to wider global market. In this connection KPT has initiated a comprehensive planning process that includes plans for deepening of existing channels to invite the deep draught vessels on our berths.

Ever mindful of its changing maritime requirements, KPT has kept up dredging its shipping channel since its inception in late 1800s. We have adopted international recognized environmental standards and have employed services of a small dredger.

The crucial role of shipping in the economy of Pakistan can hardly be over emphasized and we are always mindful of it. Accordingly, in May 2008, KPT attained a depth of 12 meters and vowed to go deeper. Today, we are celebrating that shipping tradition with the deepening of the Karachi Harbor channel by two meters. By the look of it, two meters may not appear impressive but in actual fact, an increased depth even of a meter can work wonders. It allows a single ship to carry thousands of additional tons of cargo worth millions of rupees, boost the regional economy and preserve Karachi's position as the central shipping hub for the nation. While the depth along berths is already available, there are few spots in the turning circle which are being removed.

She expressed confidence that our deeper channel will soon become the harbinger of sustainable prosperity and will usher in opportunities of employment to the deserving. It will foster a closer bond between our partners and international maritime community.

She however admitted that every new ground broken under her watch has been done by utilizing KPTs own resources. The completion of this project marks opening of Karachi harbor channel and our port system to business and it is designed to be competitive in the longer run.

Maintaining effeminacy and competence of this channel is vital for revamping and improving Pakistan's infrastructure that would ensure smooth handling of ever-increasing volume of trade. In the light of our endeavors and also trade friendly policies of the current government our exports have far exceeded expected estimates this year, she said with a sense of achievement.

The prominent personalities from ports & shipping industry who attended among others the gathering included Capt. Haleem Siddiqi, Chairman Pakistan International Container Terminal, Capt. Anjum Sajjad and Capt Rashid of Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) and CEO Terminal and Commercial respectively, Capt. Anwar Shah, former Director General Ports & Shipping and Former Chairman Gwadar Port, besides Legendary Cyrus Cowasjee who was a shipping tycoon prior to nationalization in 1974 when he operated East & West Shipping Company.

Capt. Haleem Siddiqui while paying glowing tributes to the KPT leadership for upgrading port facilities said that he had gone through every development of the Karachi port from generalized port handling facilities to specialized container terminal services since 1968. He expressed the hope that Karachi port will also achieve the goal of 14 meter depth to make it the largest vessel calling port in the region. Capt. Haleem said that target is of vital significance for Pakistan to keep pace with fast economic growth around the world.