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NA committee to take up Port Qasim issues with authorities today

NA committee to take up Port Qasim issues with authorities today

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping will take up the issues confronted by exporters and importers at Port Qasim with authorities today. The committee will also discuss PQA’s development plan as well as issues faced by the administration in running the day to day operation of the port.

A well placed source at Ministry of Ports and Shipping told Customs Today that ministry has received an agenda for today’s meeting which covers all the issues and problems associated to Port Qasim.

Port Qasim, Pakistan’s second busiest port, handles about 40% of the nation’s cargo (about 25 million tons per annum), is located in an old channel of Indus River at a distance of 35 kilometers, 28 nautical miles in the south-east of Karachi and is the most eco-friendly port. Port Qasim operates under administrative control of Ministry of Ports & Shipping, Government of Pakistan. Chairman is the chief executive of the port. All policy decisions are vested in PQA Board comprising seven members headed by Chairman, PQA. The Board is blended with public and private sector participation.

The port provides shore based facilities and services to international shipping lines and other concerned agencies in the form of adequate water depth in the channel, berths, cargo handling equipment, godowns, storage areas and provide facilities for safe day and night transit of vessels.

All development projects at the port are being undertaken in private sector on BOT basis without costing a penny to PQA. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the tune of US$ 1.22 billion is expected over a period of five years through development projects at the port.

Major development projects include construction of the Gas Port LNG Floating Terminal to meet the energy demands, at a cost of US$ 160 million with handling capacity of 3 million tons per annum.

A dedicated Coal, Clinker & Cement Terminal is being undertaken at a cost of US$ 180 million with handling capacity of 8 million tons per annum and storage capacity of 0.9 million tons. Implementation agreement has been signed on November 6, 2010 with PIBT (Pakistan International Bulk Terminal).

An LNG Terminal is planned to be developed by Granada group of Companies at a cost of US$ 274 million with handling capacity of 3.5 million tons per annum.

To handle increased volume of POL imports, a second Oil Terminal is planned to be developed at a cost of US$ 51.4 million with handling capacity of 9 million tons per annum.

To handle increased volume of Pakistan Steel Mills and to accommodate Al-Twarqui Steel Mills imports, a second Iron Ore & Coal berth is planned to be developed at a cost of US$ 150 million with handling capacity of 8 million tons per annum. Outsourcing of the terminal is also under active consideration.

The project of Deepening & Widening of navigation Channel is crucial for PQA. PQA plans deepening of navigation channel for all weather 14 meter draught vessels at a cost of US$ 200 million on Design, Construct and Finance basis.

Besides capacity building projects, to facilitate the traffic flow PQA plans construction of 26 KM long Dual Carriageway from National Highway T-junction passing through PQA commercial areas (Western Industrial Zone and Eastern Industrial Zone), ending at Sassui Bridge Ghaghar Railway Crossing inclusion up-gradation of Main Access Road and construction of two flyover on BOT basis at the estimated cost of Rs 6.00 billion.

In the recent past, the exporters and importers had been facing numerous problems and hardships on behalf of handlers at Port Qasim. Resultantly, in May last year, Pakistan International Freight Forwarders Association (PIFFA), Pakistan Ship’s Agents Association (PSAA), and Air Cargo Agents Association of Pakistan (ACAAP) decided to jointly establish a database to identify freight payment defaulters and take precautionary steps as per law to resolve and prevent evasion.

The port users also faced problems due to non-passing of proposed Logistics Service Providers Authority Bill 2013, drafted in by KCCI in liaison with the National Trade and Transport Facilitation Committee (NTTFC) of the Commerce Ministry in drafting the proposed law to help provide a regulatory regime for the logistics industry.

Exporters have demanded removal of deficiencies in the newly launched auto-clearance system WeBOC at Port Qasim for smooth flow of exports because the Federal Board of Revenue suspended operations of the auto-clearance system PaCCS owned by a Kuwait-based company in September 2011 and replaced it with WeBOC.