Immediate upgradation of ports demanded to bolster trade

September 22, 2015 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Small traders on Wednesday demanded upgradation of ports in Pakistan to improve maritime trade, reduce cost of imports and exports, reap benefits of Pak-China Economic Corridor and streamline LNG imports.

“Ports should see major transformation as Pakistan cannot handle the huge LNG vessels of Qatargas called Q-Max and Q-Flex; therefore, the country has to get small ships from other companies which increase the cost,” said Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt in a satement issued from Islamabad.

Qatargas continued to press Pakistan since long to deepen the ports to accommodate big vessels but to no avail for which port authorities are responsible, he said. Butt said that country is passing through challenges while economy is under pressure due to various reasons including congestion of ports which remains one of the main hurdles to growth.

Extra resources for development of ports must be allocated on preferential basis which are handling 90 per cent of the nation’s external trade. Butt said that Port Qasim handling around 37 per cent of the nation’s cargo is earning good profit but the progress is slow while procedures have become a problem.

Development of Gwadar Port located at the juncture of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, needs urgent attention as all Pakistani ports hardly handle 1.1 million containers annually while only one Port of Jabel Ali, UAE handles 12 million containers per annum which will be expanded to 55 million containers by 2030, he informed.

Similarly, the Port of Sohar, one of the eight in Oman, is hardly 100 km away from Gwadar, which has also become a major transhipment hub which will start handling 1.5 million containers once their US$130 million expansion project is completed while Port Sultan Qaboos can hand over 20 million tonnes of cargo.

Shanghai, China, is on the top of 50 best container ports of the world, Singapore in second, while Pakistan is not mentioned in the list which is depressing.

Pakistan stands at 32nd in Southeast Asia due to cumbersome operational, administrative and security procedures making it ill-equipped for competition and expansive for trade, he said, adding that Pakistani ports are at the bottom in the Saarc region with Dhaka on the top.