Karachi, September 6, 2019: Since July 2018 on the directives of Honorable Supreme Court all imported coal is being handled at Port Qasim Authority. Pakistan imports coal in access of 13- 14 million tons per annum and almost 80 percent of the quantity is transported to upcountry as an energy fuel to different industries including cement, Power, Steel and Textile.
This demand was created when many industries shifted from furnace oil to coal in 2002 as it was a much cheaper alternative and still remains. Later on its demand further increased around 2012 due to acute shortage of gas to the industries and then due to commissioning of imported Coal based power plants in our country.
From 2002 till now the demand has drastically increased but unfortunately government has not taken any steps in proper handling of coal and facilitate the industries dependent on it. Chairman Port Qasim during Supreme Courts hearing pledged to handle and facilitate coal handling at Port Qasim but unfortunately we are still facing hurdles in our work.
Port Qasim Authority the Prime handler of this commodity is not paying any attention to this issue. Currently trucks are waiting for more then 3-4 days at Port Qasim to lift the cargo. There are hundreds of trucks in waiting and have blocked the road upto 3-4 kilometers.
Industries which are in South region are also suffering as transportation coal to them usually takes 4 to 5 hours which has now gone up to 1-2 days. Industries situated upcountry are the ones suffering the most, what took 2-3 days to reach has gone upto 7-8 days due to traffic congestion and Port Qasim.
Port Qasim should at least provide Parking spaces for vehicles so they do not block the road as then it turns into chaotic situation where everyone gets affected. Transporters also take advantage of this situation and hike the transportation prices which increases the cost of production for industries and eventually has its effects on general public with inflated prices of general products.
It is pertinent to mention here that delays in lifting cargo will eventually cause delay in discharging cargo which will result in millions of dollars of demurrage to be paid to ship owners all due to negligence of regulating authorities.
Further Port Qasim has blocked there right of way to coal warehouse near there terminal. As it takes time to arrange transport for upcountry large importers move there cargo to nearby coal yards and then move cargo as and when transport is available for upcountry to avoid demurrages at port and to provide space for new upcoming vessels at the terminal. As Port Qasim has provided limited space to the terminal and coal can not be stored for more then 15 days at terminal.
Recently federal government also imposed weight restrictions on NHA which has drastically increased the transportation rates but still industries are suffering as even when willing to pay the extra cost they cannot get transport due to shortage of vehicles. The only other alternative is railway which has its own limitations due to shortage of engines and wagons.
No one in Port Qasim Authority is willing to address our problems we have followed up several times with Chairman s office for a meeting but still have no response.
Before July 2018 coal was also handled at KPT where there were several berths available to handle it. Having coal handled at more then one port had its advantages as transportation was divided and not concentrated at one place which resulted in better traffic management as well as discouraged monopolistic practices by transporters such as Price controlling.
You are requested to kindly raise this issue, as a prime energy fuel for our country cannot be handled immaturely like this.