DIRTY CARGO TERMINAL AT PORT QASIM
A SILVER LINING FOR ENERGY STARVED ECONOMY
June 11 - 17, 2012
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has come forward to finance Pakistan's first dirty cargo terminal coming up at Port Qasim at a total cost of $182 million at a time when Pakistan's economy is confronted with serious energy crisis.
The up and coming terminal has been designed to have a capacity of nine million tons of dirty cargo including clinker, cement, and coal in conformity to environment control facility of international standards.
The economic viability of the project speaks louder in the backdrop of ever-increasing energy needs and plans to shift our power generation from imported oil to cost effective coal fired power generating technology.
Since the developed economies like Germany, USA, China and even India have already switched over to coal based power generation for over 60 percent of their power requirement, Pakistan has to follow the suit to beat the abnormal increase in electricity prices.
The terminal is coming up under the aegis of Marine Group of Companies, which is already in process of a study to run cargo trains from Karachi to upcountry destinations. The United States Consul General William Martin has signed an agreement providing for Rs56 million to Premier Mercantile Services (PMS), a Marine Group company, for expert assistance to facilitate the acquisition and operation of a fleet of locomotives on the Karachi-Lahore railway line.
CG Martin, on behalf of the US Trade and Development Agency, along with Captain Haleem Siddiqui of PMS inked the agreement that will enable the private sector company to help Pakistan's rail system handle the growing volume of cargo between Lahore and Karachi, said a press release.
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, the release stated.
Speaking on the occasion, CG Martin stated 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.
It is also heartening to note that besides the bulk terminal, five LNG terminals are also in the pipeline, which can be described as the silver lining for the energy starved economy of the country.
AGREEMENT WITH IFC
The investment agreement for the construction of Pakistan's first mechanized multipurpose non-food dry bulk cargo terminal at Port Qasim was signed between Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Limited (PIBT) and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
Managing Director Marine Group of Companies, Aasim A. Siddiqui, highlighted the importance of the contributions made by IFC in the ports of Pakistan and specifically to the Marine Group of Companies. He spotlighted the salient features of the terminal as being a state-of-the-art multipurpose dry bulk cargo handling facility to be built at an estimated cost of $185 million on a built operate and transfer (BOT) basis.
The project is expected to be operational by the year 2015, with the capability of handling up to 12 million tons per annum of dry bulk cargo.
He further stated that the project is envisaged to improve efficiency, capacity and flexibility in cargo handling and reduce the costs and time of cargo handling in the country that will in turn boost the economic growth of Pakistan.
He further added that PIBT is in line with the vision of Marine Group of Companies to be the leading cargo handling and logistics Group in Pakistan to meet the growing demand of cargo handling in the country. PIBT will boost the economic activities and improve the transport and logistics infrastructure by implementing international standards of efficiency and environmental safety.
Speaking on the occasion, Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Vice President for Europe, Middle East and North Africa said "while Pakistan has strong potential for growth, it is suffering a lack of adequate investment in infrastructure." He further said "this project will facilitate growth in international trade for Pakistan, supporting the country's economic development." The signing of the investment agreement of $19 million was executed by Capt. Haleem A. Siddiqui, Aasim A. Siddiqui and Dimitris Tsitsiragos.
While talking to the media, Capt. Haleem A. Siddiqui highlighted that WC is supporting the construction of the terminal. He stressed that IFC's participation as an equity shareholder with a Pakistani firm shows the growth of trust and confidence that the international lenders have shown for Pakistan.
He further added that PIBT is in the process of developing a mangroves reforestation plant in collaboration with the international union for conservation of nature (IUCN) on an area of 500 hectares in the coastal area of Port Qasim to improve the marine ecology which is in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations of Pakistan, IFC's Performance standards, and the World Bank Group Environmental Health and Safety Guidelines.
Present at the ceremony were Chairman PQA, Vice Admiral (R) Muhammad Shafi HI (M), Chairman KPT, Aslam Hayat, dignitaries, business community and representatives of print and electronic media.
Marine Group of Companies has the distinction of setting up in the past the country's first publicly listed port infrastructure project by the name of Pakistan International Container Terminal Ltd (PICT) that currently handles around thirty percent of the country's container throughput.