Govt decides to set up Inland Water Transport Authority | Pakistan Today

Govt decides to set up Inland Water Transport Authority

After years of deliberations on the idea of utilising the Indus River’s waterways for freight forwarding, high fuel costs have forced the government to set up an Inland Water Transport Authority (IWTA) to use the waterways to cut down on the petroleum import bill as well as freight charges.
A meeting chaired by the Minister of Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar and attended by senior officials of the Planning Commission, Ministry of Defence and Pakistan Navy decided to set up IWTA to initiate progress on the proposal. The meeting was informed that more than 700kms of the 1200km-distacne between Karachi and Peshawar were ripe for cargo transport immediately. Link and irrigation canals in Punjab were also usable to supplement farm-to-market roads. It was informed that the Pakistan Navy, with the financial participation of the private sector, had already conducted a survey of 200kms of the Indus and the private sector had assured to fund all shore equipment, terminals and cargo craft. The meeting was told that the provinces were being encouraged to start their pilot projects, as navigation on canals had been devolved to provinces under the 18th Amendment, while that on the main rivers remained with the federation.
Once IWTA legislation is promulgated, all inland navigation would fall under one national authority. The meeting decided that the authority would work under the Ministry of Water and Power, and cell consisting of officials of WAPDA and the Pakistan Navy would be set up initially. The meeting directed the ministry to formulate draft legislation for approval from the Council of Common Interest, approved the pilot project on Indus River and asked WAPDA and the Pakistan Navy to take necessary steps, conduct survey and prepare navigation charts. Almost 96 percent of country’s freight is dependent on the road network, while less than four percent is transported through rail.
He said a pilot project was being launched on a 200 kilometre-stretch of Indus, followed by 200kms on Nara and Jamrao Canals in Sindh and 300kms on Kacchi Canal in Punjab and Balochistan. According to experts, every kilometre of a standard 24-foot-wide road costs Rs 80 to 100 million, while the cost of commissioning the entire 200kms of the Indus Pilot Project was less than Rs 100m.

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