KARACHI: Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael has said that enhancement in the working capacity of ports is in process in regard to coal handling to meet the expected surge in its demand by power plants across the country in near future.
The minister said that in order to develop supply chain starting from ports up to the entry gates of power plants, all the relevant departments and ministries have been taken in the loop including Pakistan Railways, communication and engineering departments to ensure uninterrupted supply of coal.
Karachi Port Trust, he said, has been asked to increase its coal handling capacity which is presently catering to a small demand of coal arising from cement plants. However, when power plants start running on coal a mammoth quantity of coal would be needed which will mostly come from imports.
The Minister said that on an average each power plant needs around 17,000 tonnes of coal per day, which means that a vessel with a capacity of 55,000 to 60,000 tonnes would be required to meet the daily demand of only three power plants.
Similarly, he said that in order to have cheap cost of haulage of coal the capacity of railways will also have to be developed. He said the ministry has initially directed KPT to dedicate five berths which are having deeper draft of up to 13 metres for handling ships loaded with coal. He said a conveyer belt of 200 metres is being built to ensure rapid unloading and loading of coal.
Presently, the coal is being handled manually and loaded onto dumper trucks. Pakistan Railways is being asked to lay down tracks where necessary so that coal movement up to the gates of these power plants is made possible, he added.
Michael said that he chaired a meeting of the heads of KPT, Port Qasim Authority, Director General Ports and Shipping and Ministry of Ports Secretary. A roadmap was chalked out to develop a supply chain for coal starting from ports up to power plants.
Though a bulk cargo terminal is already being built by a private company at Port Qasim to handle dirty cargo like coal, clinker and cement, the government, taking into consideration the future demand for coal, has planned to have another such terminal at PQA.
Kamran Michael said that another coal handling facility will be developed at Pakistan Deep Water Container Port (PDWCP) where six berths could be developed with deeper draft of 18 metres.