KPT to amend its century-old act KARACHI: The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is planning to introduce amendments to its century-old act in an attempt to help the port operate more efficiently and remain competitive with regional ports.
The move came after the federal government asked the KPT to include the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) in its board of trustees.
Around 19 clauses have been identified under the proposed amendments to the KPT Act of 1886. Though the KPT received several proposals from the stakeholders, the port authorities are only keen to amend the provisions that are directly connected with the act.
However, port and shipping experts generally believe that none of the proposed amendments are relevant in order to improve port operations.
“Today’s ports rely on quick turnover and provide state-of-the-art facilities using modern equipment,” said Captain Rasheed Abro, an expert on ports and shipping. “Contrary to this, the Karachi port, which handles around 50 per cent of country’s seaborne cargo, lacks all these modern equipment, such as tugs, pilot boats, floating cranes, short cranes, scanners and cargo tracking.”
In an era of ultra-modern ships, the Karachi port was unable to take bulk vessels without gear as it did not have any facility to discharge cargo with modern shore equipment, he said.
Another expert requesting anonymity said that all the proposed amendments are related to increasing the number of trustees and to favour private sector bodies like the FPCCI and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) “to suppress the voice of business community who is already suffering due to inefficiency of port officials and ageing equipment”.
He feared that just increasing the number of trustees from 11 to 13 by including FPCCI and Aptma would not help improve the operational efficiency of the port. “These trade bodies have no relevancy with the operational activities of the port. In fact, they have a conflict of interest. Only those people should be nominated in the board who have know-how and expertise in port and commercial maritime field,” he lamented.
However, a KPT official requesting not to be identified said that including the country’s two biggest trade bodies in the board of trustees would help the port authorities to develop a close liaison with the private sector and know ground issues affecting port operations.
He further said that the ever-increasing cargo handling activity by the Karachi port warranted a permanent vice-chairman who can share the burden of port operations and administration along with the chairman.