Silt causing problems for PQA | Pakistan Today

Silt causing problems for PQA

KARACHI – The Port Qasim Authority (PQA) is spending around Rs 3.0 billion annually to clean its channel from five million cubic meters silt in order to maintain its 11 meter draught, while it has spent over Rs 80 billion in this regard since the port has become operational. Poor vision of planners of the port in the time of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto has triggered this loss.
The said port was initially planned to develop at Khalifa Point in Balcohistan. However, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto later did not want this port to be in Balochistan and, thereby, asked concerned authorities to keep this port in the limits of Sindh, sources informed Pakistan Today.
A single poor decision will lead to an all time loss, sources said, adding that the PQA has to pay Rs 600 per cubic meter for dredging. This practice is being carried out since 1980. PQA will have to deal with this Bill of Quantity (BoQ) in terms of silt, as it is geographically located at the Indus Delta with the 45 kilometers of long channel, sources added.
Kolkata port India has had this same issue as it was also developed on the Hoogly River, and it has now reduced to just six meters by dint of silting from Ganga Delta, sources added. Similarly the Port of Chittagong, the largest seaport in Bangladesh, has been reduced to just 8.5 meters; and Yangon, also known as Rangoon, port of Myanmar has also been reduced to just nine meters, sources added.
Maritime experts, in this regard, propose that the government should develop an LNG port at Bundal Island, located at the mouth of the river. This development would also reduce length of Port Qasim’s channel. However, the government has given this project to a firm for developing it as a residential site instead of developing an LNG port at the said Island, sources said.
Sources further informed that PQA has committed to DP World to maintain its draught at 12 meter for the vessels meant for Qasim International Containers Terminal. In addition, they committed to provide 13-meter draught at the Terminal 2 of QICT. This all seems to cost heavily to PQA, as they have to go for Capital Dredging to maintain this 12 to 13 meter draught at its channel and the said dredging costs around $25 per cubic meter, sources reasoned.
They added that the PQA actually guaranteed the 14 meter draught for the said terminal of QICT, but both PQA and QICT defaulted so they had agreed on the 13 meter draught. The PQA Chairman Admiral (retd) Mohammad Shafi said that the immediate solution was to buy our own dredger, but since a single dredger costs up to $15 million, so it will be purchased with the private sector’s cooperation.
He further informed that board of PQA has recently approved purchase of a dredger. Negotiations with Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) have started and the tenders would hopefully be issued soon.

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