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The Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) is expanding its planned ferry service from Karachi to new destinations, including nearby coastal cities Doha, Dubai, and Muscat, according to documents obtained by DawnNews on Monday.

The PNSC had initially announced plans for a ferry service from Karachi to the ports of Gwadar and Chabahar in 2016, which is expected to kick off tentatively in early 2018, sources told DawnNews.

The national flag carrier in a document made the following recommendations in order to commence the ferry service "as early as possible":

  • Facilities for passengers including a canteen, waiting area, restrooms, terminal, embarkation and disembarkation areas, immigration and customs, quarantine area, electricity and standby electricity, car parking, first aid and communications.

  • Equipment and other facilities for speedy clearance of passengers, luggage and cargo.

  • Swift resolution of immigration and visa issuance matters, illegal immigrants, [and] issues related to immigration of Iranians.

  • Contacting the ministries of interior and narcotics control, defence and foreign affairs to request arrangements for the safety and security of the crew and passengers.

  • Full waiver on port tariffs and charges (including berth hire, wharfage, pilotage, and passenger handling).

Additionally, in a letter to the Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim and Gwadar Port Authority chairpersons, the PNSC requested a waiver on port charges and annual license renewal fees until the year 2030 as a means to promote the service and encourage investors.

"The initiative would promote ferry service in Pakistan and encourage both public and private sector entrepreneurs to enter into this trade," the letter said.

It also obtained a no-objection certificate for the venture in March 2017 from the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, the documents said.

The PNSC is expected to take the government on board by discussing various matters related to the venture with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping. The company's officials are to present detailed plans in a meeting, according to a letter written to Federal Secretary of Ministry of Ports and Shipping.

The PNSC has already started the process of scrutiny for the purchase of ferries.