Customs agents oppose World Bank funded ports automation project

KARACHI: All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) has opposed the proposed $70 million Ports Automation Project to be undertaken by Nafith Logistics of Jordan. The project is to be funded by World Bank.

The proposed project envisages transformation of country’s ports’ operations from manual to electronic, introduce an electronic gate system, streamline logistics land-side, integrate stakeholders, track the vehicles, introduce capacity management, and enhance safety and security.

An official said clearing agents, bonded carriers, local transporters and representatives of port authorities were taken to Jordan and a briefing was given about the operation of their proposed system, which has been implemented at Jordanian ports.

According to the details, Nafith would charge $20/vehicle as service charges, while 200 acres of land would be allocated by the Sindh government for parking of vehicles to order the traffic at ports.

The association in a letter to Ministry of Maritime Affairs noted that a similar infrastructure and queue management system as proposed by Nafith, is being implemented at Port Qasim by DP World, the operator of Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT), in February 2020, and at South Asia Port Terminal (SAPT) in January 2020.

Sources said this project was not in the best of country as it would only increase the burden on national resources, and Pakistan would go deeper in the debt trap set by the international donor agencies.

The association noted the terminals in the country are operating over capacity, most of them without designated parking areas. “The unorganized movement of port traffic has to be addressed, which can be done without any foreign funding,” APCAA noted.

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