Port Qasim Authority to halve port charges to boost exports

Published September 3, 2021
The Karachi Port Trust was directed to explore possibility to develop coal handling facilities on international standards. — Reuters/File
The Karachi Port Trust was directed to explore possibility to develop coal handling facilities on international standards. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: In a bid to enhance quantum of exports, the Cabinet Committee on Transportation and Logistics on Thursday decided that the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) would reduce wet and dry port charges by 50 per cent.

The committee in a meeting presided over by Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi asked the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to examine the possibility of reduction of port charges as done by the PQA and put up a proposal before it through the ministry of maritime affairs for consideration.

The committee directed the PQA to seek legal opinion regarding exclusivity rights of coal handling by the Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) and communicate to the ministry within one week for submission before it. The secretary of the ministry was directed to convey the decision to the PQA immediately.

The meeting was unanimous to form a committee comprising the railways minister as convener and the special assistant to the PM on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to conduct an inquiry of granting exclusivity right of coal handling to the PIBT. The committee to be formed will be liable to look into the transparency and legality of such contract and submit a report to the cabinet committee within two weeks.

It also directed the KPT to seek legal opinion on the Supreme Court judgment related to the stoppage of coal handling. The KPT was directed to explore possibility to develop coal handling facilities on international standards.

Due to the limited capacity of PIBT, severe congestion at the port is causing delays of up to 15 days in offloading of imported coal. The delays are resulting in continuous unjustified depletion of precious foreign reserves which coal importers are paying as ship demurrage. The coal importers have reportedly paid $150 million as demurrage in the past six months due to the inefficiency and limited capacity to handle imported coal by the PIBT.

“On average coal importers are paying 35,000 to 40,000 dollars per vessel per day as ship demurrage and around 8 to 10 coal vessels line up can be observed in waiting at the port for discharge,” said a coal importer.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2021

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