PNSC to break into containerised shipping


KARACHI – United Arab Emirates Shipping Company has proposed that it will utilise feeder services through small containers from Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) for their islands, and initially will begin with three container vessels. PNSC Chairman Rashid Siddiqi while speaking to Pakistan Today indicated his distress that PNSC’s lack of expertise in containerised shipping business, but this opportunity would be the first step in the expansion program of PNSC by which it would be able to begin large scale container shipping, said.
Historically, PNSC does not have similar practice and experience of running large-scale containerised shipping operations, but now we have decided to begin joint ventures in this capacity in order to have balanced a share of loss and profit, he added. Siddiqi also added that this joint venture with the UAE shipping company would be a training phase for Pakistan to gain expertise in feeder services so that it can step in the big containerised business, which is the next phase of our business plan.
He said, currently, we are trying to make fleet serviceability by replacing older vessels with newer ones that are of young age and after training our staff in the feeder services through small containers we would launch our expansion phase of PNSC fleet. On the other hand, maritime experts say that containerising is capital intensive and big container vessels are expensive to purchase and cannot be run effectively if functioning cargo services are inadequate.
Similarly, another issue is operating problems if a connection with mother vessel line is not maintained while Pakistan has dedicated feeder services and at least three container vessels are required to run this business but that too must be connected with the mother vessel line, as the transit time for the mother vessel is very important that can only be maintained through three container vessels.
Sources in the maritime industry informed Pakistan Today that PNSC can purchase three small container vessels but no mother vessel line is apparently willing to grant them any guarantee, however they also have a big hurdle in this business in the shape of Pakistan Customs Act.
The Customs Act entails that for filing Import General Manifest (IGM) under which the vessel has to pay custom duty, and this act is in contradiction with the national Shipping Policy that exempts the duty on operational vessels, the experts said.
PNSC had to pay off the loan of some $60 million due to this custom act as it did not let some containerised vessels of the corporation to enter the country in the 1990s, therefore the authorities must look into this issue and should amend the custom act regarding IGM filing, sources said.