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KARACHI: The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has failed to provide the country’s biggest Keamari port with pro­per and permanent road connectivity even after a lapse of 10 years, causing frequent gridlocks over the Jinnah Bridge and the connecting arteries.

Construction work on the Pakistan Deep Water Container Port (PDWCP) was started in 2006 at an estimated investment of $1.2 billion, with equal share from the port operator, the South Asia Pakistan Terminals, and the KPT.

Under the first phase, two 400-metre-long berths were built and equipment was installed. The port, which has a draft of 16 metres, was put to trial run in December.

In early 2005, when the port was on the drawing board, due importance was given to road connectivity because of the port’s location, deep down in the thickly populated area of Keamari and surrounded by the posh locality of Clifton.

Work on country’s biggest port started in 2006

The then management of the KPT initially planned to construct a harbour crossing bridge at an estimated cost of $1bn so that heavy vehicles carrying containers moved straight from the port to the Northern Bypass without entering the downtown.

After failing to mobilise funds, the KPT opted for an alternative plan to build an elevated expressway at a cost of $500 million. The expressway was to start from Keamari and touch the Northern Bypass after passing over M.A. Jinnah Road and Jinnah Bridge.

However, both the plans failed to materialise.

According to latest figures, 122 container vessels have been berthed at the port since December. More­over, 270,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) have been handled. TEU is a common measure of shipping container volume.

The largest vessel received by the port was Hyundai Splendour, which was loaded with 8,600 TEUs but only half of the cargo could be unloaded.

Anwar Shah, a port and shipping expert, said the issue of congestion and traffic jams on roads could not be tackled until proper road connectivity was given to the PDWCP.

He said the concept of truck calling system, being successfully managed in other ports of the world, could work wonders in this regard. Under the system, no truck is allowed to enter the city until the terminal operator calls it for picking or dropping containers. This means the terminal operator will have to make the requi­red cargo/container ready for loading or unloading before the truck enters the port/terminal, he explained.

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2017

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