KARACHI: The licence for the first ferry service — which will initially run between Karachi and Port Qasim — was issued by the ports and shipping ministry on Monday to Swat Shipping (pvt) Ltd, a subsidiary of the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC).
If successful, the ferry service will expand to include routes to other regional ports, including Chabahar, Iran.
The corporation initially plans to purchase two ships to provide ferry services with a capacity of 200 to 250 passengers each, said PNSC Executive Director retired Brig Rashid Siddiqui, adding that it would take about 45 to 60 days before the ferry service started. He told Dawn that the PNSC had already shortlisted some ships for the service. He said these ships would initially operate within Pakistani territorial waters and in the next phase, they would be extended to Chabahar, Iran, and other ports in the region.
Responding to a question, Brig Siddiqui said that the ships would be under the age of 20 and would be refurbished.
He added that work was going on at full speed to launch the service at the earliest and hoped it would start within the next two months.
He explained that initially the ferry service would operate between Karachi and Port Qasim and if the venture was successful, it would be extended to other regional ports.
There are around 400 daily commuters from Karachi to Port Qasim and the ferry service would facilitate them, he added.
The federal minister for ports and shipping, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, presented the licence to PNSC Chairman Arif Ilahi. Ports and Shipping Director General Asad Rafi Chaandna was also present at the occasion.
Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017