Dilapidated road infrastructure to ports jeopardizing trade operations

KARACHI: The ramshackle of the infrastructure and encroachments along the way has slowed down the cargo flow to and from the ports, jeopardizing the entire import and export operations.

President Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) Wasiq Hussain Khan said the dilapidated road infrastructure near Karachi Port and Port Qasim was adversely affecting the trade, would also have a serious impact on the country’s economy.

An official at South Asia Port Terminal (SAPT) said the port had capability of handling cumulative country’s throughput, if it worked in full potential, but cargo flow to and from the port had become a hindrance.

“To cope with it, the government needs to develop more expressways to connect to highways for competing with global peers with reference to transit trade and transshipment hub. There is a need to focus on providing smart solutions to all its seaports in terms of improving and monitoring port infrastructure, optimising cargo handling, automating customs clearance, encouraging intermodal transportation services, improving port and cargo safety”.

Logistics and transportation infrastructure in a country not only supports local businesses but also helps in expediting national exports. The economic contribution of seaport activity is of paramount importance when it comes to country’s development.

An official at DP World, the operator of Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) said the roads leading to Port Qasim and terminal were destroyed in the rains, and even after months the roads were in the same shape.

“During the last few years, we have seen developments of sea ports in Pakistan, which are playing an important role in reducing the country’s trade deficit with Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT), SAPT, QICT, Karachi International Container Terminal ( KICT) and Gwadar being some big names in the market, contributing significantly to change Pakistan’s economic landscape for the better. However, maintaining road infrastructure and ensuring flow of traffic is government’s responsibility.”

President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shariq Vohra said it was really unfortunate that Karachi Port remained functional for hardly eight hours a day due to ban on movement of heavy vehicles.

“We fully understand the traffic related issues but disallowing movement of heavy vehicles for so many hours every day was not the right solution. The government will have to pay attention to KCCI’s logical demand to construct an elevated corridor exclusively for heavy vehicles which could connect Karachi Port with the highway without touching any road of the city”, he added.

He also underscored the need to make collective efforts in dealing numerous ports and shipping related issues, which have been pending since last so many years, particularly those being created by the shipping agents and terminal operators.

KCAA President Wasiq Hussain spoke of issues because of terminal operators who were charging demurrage from the date of arrival of the ship by totally ignoring the rule that allowed five free days before the imposition of demurrage. “In addition to grounding issues, there are a host of other issues which have to be taken up and resolved in consultation with all stakeholders”, he added.

General Secretary KCAA Mahmood ul Hassan said, “Delay in clearance of goods which goes up to 10, 15 and even 25 days, causes huge financial losses to traders who find their survival at stake due to high cost of imported consignments”, he added while citing a few examples in which additional amounts in between Rs.100,000 to Rs200,000 were paid to the port and around Rs500,000 were charged by shipping lines on account of demurrage and detention charges only because of the delays by Customs officials.

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