May 21 - 27, 20

The groundbreaking ceremony of Pakistan International Bulk Cargo Terminal (PIBT), the first dirty cargo-handling terminal at Port Qasim at an estimated cost of $184 million, was the icebreaking event in the face of almost idle investment climate persisting for quite sometimes in the country.

Performed by Vice Admiral (R) Muhammed Shafi, Chairman Port Qasim, the ground breaking ceremony was well attended by the prominent personalities from port and shipping industry, commercial consul of Turkish Consulate, and representatives of the consortium of Pakistan Turkish construction company, Siyahkalem-Maqbool, a joint venture which has been awarded the construction contract for the prestigious terminal, which is likely to come on the ground in next two and half years.

Highlighting the salient features of the project, Sharique A Siddiqui, the Chief Executive Officer of the project, said that the PIBT would be spreading over 62 acres of land at Port Qasim, and will have the storing capacity of nine million tons of coal, besides world class cement silos and clinker storage facility being designed for protecting the environment and ecology around the port.

One of the most interesting features of the project disclosed by Capt. Haleem Siddiqui, Chairman Marine Group, was an environment control agreement signed between IUCN and PIBT with an emphasis of developing, grooming and plantation of mangroves over a huge span of 500 hectares. The growth of mangroves around Port Qasim will not only help environment control but also lend a massive support for growth of marine life alongside the coastal area of Port Qasim. This mangrove project has helped winning the support of the World Bank as well which has a 20 percent equity share in the project.

In his opening remarks, Muhammad Shafi while calling the project as an addition to the prestige of Port Qasim extended all out support of the port authority to facilitate completion of the project and resolve the possible issues propping up during the course of construction.

In this respect, he also announced a one-window facility for smooth sailing of the dirty cargo project, which would naturally help cheaper fuel supply to the coal based power generation activity in the country.

Describing the ground-breaking ceremony as a dream coming to reality, Capt. Haleem Siddiqui said that he has a passion to develop port's infrastructure to the level which should be second to none in the global marine industry.

Recalling the a long journey to come to this point of reality, Capt. Siddiqui said that this project was advertised in 2007 and we stood as the best bidder of the project. However, the project was delayed for some reasons, which however escalated the cost of the project from initial $130 million to $184 million today.

Had this decision been taken earlier, the project would have contributed significantly in addressing the energy issues besides augmenting the port facilities for other loose cargo as well. He was confident that the project would be operational before schedule to contribute significantly in the economy of the country.

The foundation stone for the construction of state-of-the-art Pakistan's first mechanized coal, clinker and cement terminal at Port Qasim on a 30-year build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis was laid at PIBT Site located at North Western Industrial Zone of Port Qasim Authority in Karachi by the Chairman Port Qasim Authority.

The chairman PQA operated the chain excavator to commence the first excavation activity for the construction of the terminal. He assured the project of PQA's full support and timely facilitation.

In the inaugural speech given by CEO PIBT, Sharique A Siddqui spotlighted the project salient features i.e., PIBT would be constructed as a state-of-the-art dirty bulk cargo handling facility at an estimated cost of approximately $186 million. PIBT is in the process of developing a mangroves reforestation plan in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on 500 hectares nearby Port Qasim area, to improve the marine ecology and already depleting environmental conditions of the mangroves.

The much-awaited project involves reclamation of 62 acres of land and construction of a 460 meter jetty and trestle bridge of 2.5 km.

The coal, clinker, and cement terminal will help alleviate the environmental concerns of the residents of Karachi when coal handling will be shifted to Port Qasim, which will reduce the pollution presently caused by coal handling at Karachi port.

Capt. Siddiqui said that the PIBT project is in line with the vision of Marine Group of Companies to be the pioneering group of Pakistani entrepreneurs and professionals to set up modern cargo handling infrastructure in the ports in Pakistan to meet the growing demands of cargo handling in the country. The construction works for the project has been awarded to a Turkish-Pakistani consortium. He thanked the chairman PQA and PQA officials for their support to the project and congratulated them on securing private sector investment in this project.


It may not be out of place to mention that Capt. Haleem Siddiqui and United States Consul General, William Martin, recently signed an agreement providing for Rs56 million to premier mercantile services (PMS) for expert assistance to facilitate the acquisition and operation of a fleet of locomotives

Capt. Siddiqui while talking to PAGE said that the initiative is central to improving the capacity of one of Pakistan's most important trade corridors and promoting continued economic growth. To remedy a shortage of properly maintained locomotives, Pakistan Railways has agreed to allow PMS to deploy and operate a fleet of locomotives using PR's existing rolling stock and railway infrastructure. The assistance will also provide PMS with an assessment of future freight volumes, financing requirements for the project, and other technical assistance.

CG Martin while commenting on the project said that "the United States remains committed to partnering with the Pakistani transportation sector," because of its importance in supporting economic growth in the country, while also "increasing and strengthening Pak-US commercial ties". The US trade and development agency aims to create sustainable infrastructure and economic growth in partner countries.

Brian McCleary, Commercial Counselor, US Embassy Islamabad, and Aasim Siddiqui, MD, Marine Group of Companies, were also present on the occasion.

According to Siddiqui, the revival of locomotive operations between Karachi and Lahore, which is the cheapest mode of transportation, will also help in transportation of coal from Port Qasim to upcountry especially for IPPs and other industries, which have to switch from costly oil to coal fired option which would curtail ever growing cost of input for power generation as well as other industries. It may be noted that the cement units in Pakistan have already switched over to coal fired operations and the remaining power generating units would have to opt for coal as the costly oil is badly affecting the economic viability of projects.