Karachi Port Trust to build $10bn freight corridor

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KARACHI: The KPT is initiating work on the development of a freight corridor at a whopping estimated cost of around $10 billion along the seafront from Karachi Port to Port Qasim for rapid movement of all sorts of cargo, including liquid bulk variety.

The Karachi Port Trust chairman, Rear Admiral Jamil Akhter said this while apprising the media of the initiative in the presence of federal minister for foreign and maritime affairs, Abdullah Hussain Haroon in the mega port city on Friday.

The KPT chairman conceded that the South Asia Pakistan Terminal (SAPT) was surrounded by thickly populated localities, lacked direct connection with any major artery to facilitate rapid movement of port traffic.

The freight corridor, said the KPT chairman, would have a dedicated railway track and road network complete with LNG and POL pipelines.

Some Chinese, as well as Western entities, have shown interest in the project, said the KPT chairman.

The KPT was also working on an elevated expressway starting from Keamari to Northern Bypass for providing signal-free exit and entry road network to port traffic.

Until these projects were completed, the KPT would impress upon Pakistan Railways to transport more containers from Karachi Port to upcountry, said he.

Previously, PR used to provide only 180 bogies per month but now the railways have increased the number to 4,000 per month – creating a win-win situation as both state institutions were now earning far greater revenue through supporting each other.

As things stand, said Admiral Akhter, presently only one percent of port cargo was being shipped by railways whereas the global standard is around 40pc. As PR hauls more containers, the city roads too would be relieved off the pressure, added he.

The KPT chairman said the entity was initiating other projects like Oyster Rock Container Terminal and bulk cargo project at East and West Wharf.

Besides, work is going on for increasing the capacity of two roads passing through Clifton and all heavy vehicles/trucks parked at East and West Wharf have been removed which has also streamlined the flow of traffic, he maintained.

The chairman hoped that once these connectivity projects are completed within the next five years, many transport issues confronting the port as well as the city of Karachi with regards to traffic jams and congestions would be resolved.

Responding to a question, he said, after removing coal handling from Karachi Port on the Supreme Court’s orders, the port started handling alternate cargo like seeds, having an annual volume of up to 3 million tonnes. This has offset the revenue loss incurred on account of coal handling, he said.

In response to another question, the KPT chairman said the port could go for self-financing for desalination (co-gen) plant being set-up near Oyster Rock to meet the ever-worsening water crisis.