KARACHI: A vessel carrying containers collided with another when it was being given the alongside berth at South Asia Pakistan Terminals (SAPT), Keamari, on Monday, ports and shipping sources said.
The vessel ‘Tolten’ belonging to Hapag Lloyd carrying transit-containers collided with the other stationary vessel in the process of being given the alongside SAPT berth No 4, resulting in damage to the berth and the ship.
The incident took place between 2.30pm and 3pm when the ship was being mastered by a Karachi Port Trust (KPT) pilot for giving the alongside berth. As a result of the incident, around 19 containers on board the ship fell into the sea.
As per international practice, a ship moving in or out of a port area has to be handled and mastered by a pilot of the port till the time the ship is either safely berthed or sailed out.
In this case also the KPT pilot was handling the incoming vessel for berthing but unfortunately due to some human error or weather conditions the ship collided with the other vessel which was ready to sail out after loading its cargo at berth No 3, the sources said.
According to the sources, during the process of berthing pilots have to look at weather conditions and winds but it seems that an unhappy combination of factors resulted in this incident.
Under the international practice, the pilot remains on board till such time the ship becomes stationary and is fastened to the berth. But in this case, according to the sources, it seems that the pilot had failed to control the speed and the angle of the incoming vessel at the time of berthing resulting in the collision.
It may be recalled that a few days ago KPT pilots went on strike demanding an increase in their salaries. They, however, resumed their work after reaching an understanding with the port authorities.
But the sources said that the issue of raise in salaries between the pilots and the KPT authorities had not yet been resolved.
It is being feared by port and shipping experts that in case any of the containers sink in the approach channel it will become hazardous for movement of ships till the time it is removed.
The sources told Dawn that immediately after the incident the containers started floating towards the approach channel as per wind direction, adding that it was dangerous for the movement of ships.
Although the port authorities have initiated an inquiry into the incident, the sources said that the KPT had no SOP (standard operating procedure) for dealing with such incidents and fixing of responsibility.
Both the ships would have to stay at the port till the time the inquiry was completed and that might cause any amount of financial losses to the parties involved, the sources added.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2018