ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s sole shipyard in Karachi is no longer enough to meet the country’s needs. The government needs to move in the strategic direction of building more shipyards beginning with Gwadar.
The Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production on Monday observed that Gwadar presents itself as an ideal location for the construction of a modern shipyard as there is no such facility in the region.
It was highlighted during the meeting that neighbouring India has over 43 shipyards in addition to 50 dry dockyards and Bangladesh has 23 shipyards, becoming a ship exporting country.
At the time of Partition, Pakistan came to possess one shipyard in Chittagong, then in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), inherited from the British colonial rulers. The Karachi shipyard was built in 1957.
Highlighting some of the salient features of the Karachi shipyard, the Senate standing committee was told that it is headed by a managing director and employs 2,800 people. To date 448 ships have been designed by the shipyard, including for the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran and Belgium.
India, Bangladesh have dozens while Pakistan relies on only one
The shipyard has also manufactured a navy fleet tanker. Other projects include aluminium boats, fast-track craft missile and submarines. It also carries out ship repair work and other general engineering projects.
The meeting was chaired by Senator retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum at the Parliament House and was attended among others by Senators Nauman Wazir Khattak, Nuzhat Sadiq, Mohammad Akram, Pervaiz Rashid, Mohammad Ali Shah Jamote, Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal and Managing Director of Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KS&EW) Rear Admiral Athar Saleem.
The meeting also held a briefing on the establishment of the Gwadar shipyard project which will take up an area of 750 acres of land. Mr Qayyum said that shipyards are considered strategic assets for any country as they not only contribute to a country’s indigenous commercial and defence pursuits but also generate revenue through ship exports.
He said that the summary for the construction of a shipyard at Gwadar was approved by the previous government. Presently, 750 acres of land with four kilometres of sea port has been demarcated and allotted at Sur nullah and funds worth Rs200 million have also been released.
The Senate committee stressed that work on the Gwadar shipyard should be completed on time and under the supervision of the defence production ministry which should also carry out feasibility studies relating to it.
Zubaida Jalal said during the meeting that labour and administrative trainings will be a part of the Gwadar shipyard building project agreement.
The committee made a couple of recommendations at the meeting — conducting of value chain analysis, and working on pricing mechanism and tariff determination for competitive advantage.
Moreover, the committee supported the proposal of commercial attaches to work as ex-officio defence attaches in countries where they were posted.
Regarding the purchase of surplus electricity from the Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) Solar Plant, Sanjwal, the committee was told by the POF that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority had approved the case and licence had been issued two days ago.
Consultations with the Islamabad Electric Supply Company were also in process and after due requirements wheeling charges would be paid to the company, the committee was told.
The Senate committee reiterated that this was one example which could be cited as the committee’s success since it had persistently followed up on the project and that other organisations should also pursue projects relating to generating energy from non-renewable sources and giving surplus electricity to the national grid.
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2019