June 30, 2017
ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) has been granted a licence by the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to launch its own ferry service.
Sources in the Shipping Ministry told The Nation that the PNSC has planned to launch a ferry service from Karachi to Pasni and Gwadar which would be extended later to Iran’s Chahbhar port. The government has already waived off port charges for the next 14 years to make the service competitive.
The sources said the PNSC plans also include the launching of a similar service from Karachi to the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) and economically viable ferry services to other islands to promote commercial and tourism activities. In addition, it is also working on plans to encourage the private sector to come forward and avail the concessions under the public-private partnership to make the ferry services more competitive to promote people-to-people contact.
Port and Shipping Minister Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo has given a new vision about the future role of commercial shipping in Pakistan and is taking personal interest to launch ferry services through PNSC at the earliest.
The PNSC also plans to launch ferry services to the Gulf countries as well as special Hajj and Umrah services to and from Saudi Arabia. The new vision of the minister is based on the future trends in which Pakistan would play as a hub of trade activities with the completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. It also includes developing river ferries system in the country to help promote commercial activities. The Ministry of Ports and Shipping is also working on proposals to make good use of rivers including the Indus and the Jhelum as main routes to the Arabian Sea.
These services would save foreign exchange of millions of dollars and the freight time for the shipment of the cargo containers would also be reduced. The proposal calls for the massive development of a comprehensive network of canals and rivers from South to North and North to South West which provides a glowing opportunity for the consumers to benefit from it throughout the year.
The existing network of canals and rivers in the country could also be beneficial for Chinese freight companies for the shipment of their goods in shortest possible time through ferry service from North to South.
This network would be used in unison with the network of highways and motorways and train services as part of the multi-billion dollars CPEC project starting from China’s border town Kashgar to Gwadar and Karachi ports.
In a related development, the national flag carrier also plans to expand its existing fleet of vessels with a main focus on adding more oil tankers to capture increased share of the growing market.
According to the sources, the PNSC also plans to enter into new ventures with upcoming refineries. Under the CPEC, many coal-fired plants are expected to become operational during the next two years. PNSC is aiming to venture for the transportation of the coal, which will be imported from foreign countries through Corporation’s own bulk carriers