LAHORE - Keeping view of international sea transportation Pakistan can become the hub of all trade activities and transportation of goods from Eastern Europe and Central Asia to rest of the world. It is an unfortunate truth that governments of Pakistan in the past paid no heed to take advantage from its God gifted location by developing its shipping industry and related infrastructure.

This was stated by Federal Minister for Ports & Shipping Kamran Michael while talking to The Nation here on Sunday.

“Now the present government has been busy evolving a revolutionary plan to link hot water Pakistani ports to China and Central Asia through grand network of roads. In addition to that development of shipping industry in the country is also among the key sectors identified for development on highest international standards.”

He said that in past, when Pakistan National Shipping Corporation was leading in South Asia. But with time the cooperation lost its efficiency and when I took the charge, the cooperation had only three oil tankers and seven ships. That could barely fulfill the requirement of Pakistani imports and exports, he added. He said that Cooperation had to take ships on lease to meet its requirements costing millions of Dollars. With the unceasing efforts of our ministry the situation is getting better. The number of oil tankers has been raised to 5 and cooperation is planning to buy 15 more during current year. The work on dredging and construction of new channels is also in process.

Kamran Michael said that during last month alone collaborative trade of PNSC with PSO has earned 56 million dollars. Whereas the net profit of the corporation as of December 31, 2013 was about $1.6 billion, the Minister claimed.

He said that as for the future Pakistan National Shipping Cooperation is all set to play its due role in accumulating direly needed financial resources for the country. “To enhance our business and number of our worthy clients we have established liaison with Sri Lanka, with the help and support of Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Pakistan. At this juncture I feel proud in announcing that now Sri Lanka will do all her sea trade using Pakistani ships and oil tankers. This agreement on one hand will help PNSC to pay the lease of oil tankers and on the other hand generate more revenue. Obviously, net result of similar agreements with more and more clients will help cooperation to become financially robust and capable to face the future challenges.”

As regards improvement of shipping facilities in Pakistan is concerned, best facilities will be available to container ships after completion of the deep water port project, within next two years. In addition to that, Eastern zone of Port Qasim would start functioning very soon.

The government has already started work on different projects for provision of international standard facilities at all sea ports of the country and in coming days those ports would play a role of “economic gateway of Pakistan”. Efforts are being made for an in-time completion of the ongoing development projects while new projects have also been launched for improvement of the shipping facilities at the ports.

The federal minister said that a German company has showed interest in construction of iron and coal berths at a cost of $40 million while Chinese and Korean investors have also shown keen interest in investments on various projects related to ports and shipping. The Federal Government is to launch high speed vessel service from Karachi to Gulf States, for the export of perishable food items including fruits, vegetables and meat. The high-speed ships will navigate with the speed of 25 to 30 knots from Karachi to Dubai and other neighboring ports in the Arabian Gulf.