KARACHI: The country’s first dirty cargo terminal — Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) — has started its operations by handling its maiden coal cargo vessel of more than 41,000 tonnes.

The ship named African Finfoot, having a length of 200 metres, width of 32 metres, dead weight of 61,219 tonnes and a draft of 12.5 metres, transported coal cargo to the PIBT located at Port Qasim.

Since the PIBT has become fully operational, a second vessel named Iris Oldendorff, loaded with 39,550 tonnes coal, was also given berth on Tuesday.

Due to state-of-the-art mechanisation and full automation, the PIBT can handle coal, clinker and cement in two days compared to seven days by a coal cargo ship with similar tonnage at the Karachi Port.

The Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Ltd (PIBTL), under a 30-year built-operate-and-transfer agreement with the Port Qasim Authority, has built its own jetty equipped with two coal ship unloading cranes and one cement/clinker loading crane. The terminal is capable of handling 12 million tonnes of cargo a year and has a storage yard spread over 62 acres.

The PIBTL is a public listed company quoted on the Pakistan Stock Exchange and is sponsored by the Marine Group of Companies. The terminal is partly financed by the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank.

The company has invested around $285 million in developing and setting up the terminal. It is expected to bring effectiveness and economies of scale for the port sector as well as for the trade and industry to match country’s port throughputs with the international standards of excellence.

Apart from easing off the existing port congestions at the Karachi Port and Port Qasim, the PIBT is also expected to mitigate the environmental and efficiency concerns of bulk cargo handling.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2017