Karachi boxes up 3 percent

Karachi boxes up 3 percent

Container throughput at Pakistan's main Port of Karachi increased 3 percent to 738,610 TEUs in fiscal 2003.

Total cargo throughput - both dry and liquid bulk - dipped 3 percent to 25.9 million metric tons, according to data released by the port. The loss was attributed to 800,000 fewer tons of imported liquid bulk cargo, mainly petroleum products and cooking oil, reflecting a sluggish economy in 2002-03.

Total port income rose 1.5 percent to $146 million over the previous year. An official spokesman attributed the port's nearly flat financial performance to the strengthening of the rupee against the dollar; a reduction in income earned from ship movement, and lowering of handling charges for liquid cargo.

Traffic will get a boost next spring when the port's second container terminal begins full operations. The private Marine group of companies is building Pakistan International Container Terminal at a cost of $30 million on the port's east wharf. PICT, which began initial operations in August 2002, now provides services to four shipping lines on a weekly basis and is handling container volumes up to 80,000 TEUs annually. It will handle 150,000 TEUs annually upon completion of the first phase and more than 450,000 TEUs after phase three.

Chairman Ahmad Hayat recently said an encompassing plan was under way to modernize Karachi, and computerization of all shipping procedures had been completed. The length of the channel is being extended to 12.5 kilometers (8 miles), and plans call for dredging to 45 feet.