Pakistan seeks $500m from Gulf countries for port projects

Our Correspondent
Sunday, May 28, 2023

KARACHI: Pakistan is negotiating a $500 million contract with Gulf countries, including Abu Dhabi, to fund port projects, the maritime affairs minister said on Saturday. Minister for Maritime Affairs, Faisal Sabzwari made the announcement at an event organized by the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI). "We are working with the United Arab Emirates under a G2G (government-to-government) agreement, and work is underway on three projects, including Bulk Terminals," he said.

Sabzwari said that 1,250 acres of industrial parks would be established in Port Qasim, where foreign investors interested in industrial parks would be provided facilities.

He also said that there have been no increases in tariff charges at the port, digitalization has not been implemented, restrictions on leases have been imposed, and a loan of $102 million has been taken from the World Bank, which has significantly limited KPT's financial resources.

"Terminal charges have now been increased from 60 cents to 80 cents, resulting in a marginal increase of only 1.5 percent in the cost of production for industrialists," he said. The minister said all stakeholders, including container operators, have been consulted on the reduction of demurrage charges and other penalties at the port, and as a result, Karachi Port has eliminated all its penalties.

Sabzwari further stated that the country had an outdated shipping policy that was a hundred years old, and it has now been revised to meet modern requirements. This policy has been sent to the Law Ministry for approval to seek endorsement from the assembly.

He mentioned that a maritime vessel is being added to the Karachi port fleet to transport edible oil. It is desired that KPT should have a better presence with 42 maritime vessels.

The minister also announced approval for establishing a beach wall at Karachi Fish Harbor for tourism and recreational purposes. He said that instructions have also been issued to prepare a lab for marine fisheries.

Earlier, President KATI Faraz-ur-Rehman emphasised the need for regulating shipping companies. Rehman proposed the implementation of a system for demurrage charges and penalties that would be based on the value of the container.

He suggested that the demurrage charges system should be made available online, similar to the booking system WEBOC for shipping. President KATI highlighted that in the past initiatives were taken to improve the infrastructure of Karachi, including the funds provided by railway, steel mills, and other sectors, and called for further funding from the KPT.