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Government aims to relaunch ferry service

Updated May 17, 2018

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View of Karachi port. If the ferry service materialises, the port could see passenger vessels leaving for nearby ports in Iran, Dubai and Oman, as well as cruises along the coast.—File Photo
View of Karachi port. If the ferry service materialises, the port could see passenger vessels leaving for nearby ports in Iran, Dubai and Oman, as well as cruises along the coast.—File Photo

KARACHI: Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo said on Wednesday that the draft Ferry Policy would be presented in the next Federal Cabinet meeting for approval.

Talking to Dawn from Islamabad on telephone, the minister said the draft policy has given a wide range of concessions, with a tax holiday up to 2040. Under the policy, there would be no duty and taxes on ferry service as well as on purchase of a ship for introducing the service in the country.

Initially, ferries will be launched from Karachi port to Iran, Dubai and Oman and eventually the routes would be enhanced to facilitate people for getting alternative sources of entertainment.

In order to promote and encourage this new service in the country, the Ministry for Maritime Affairs has also suggested that there be no port charges for 4-5 years as well as allowing prospective investors to launch both ferry and dining cruise services.

Mr Bizenjo said that during the Musharraf era, a ferry service was introduced which badly flopped because there were no rules and regulations to run a completely new trade in the country.

Responding to a question, the minister said the draft policy also covers issues including immigration and narcotics, thereby limiting loopholes for any abuse of service.

He said the ferry business could be run by the private and public sectors with the government’s role reduced to only licensing. Director General (DG) Ports and Shipping will be the issuing authority. To a question, he pointed out, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation would also be eligible to run its ferry.

Mr Bizenjo disclosed that under the policy, locals will not have to pay the licence fee while international operators will have to.

He further said that any operator who would like to introduce dining cruise alongside the coastline would only need one licence. While framing the draft ferry policy, he ensured that there would be no bottlenecks and snags because the government wants to rapidly promote this business.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018