Modern shipbuilding facilities fall victim of inconsistent policies

Modern shipbuilding facilities fall victim of inconsistent policies

KARACHI: Two world class projects of ship-building facilities at Port Qasim and Gwadar Port have succumbed to the inconsistent policies.

These shipyards project were designed to build 'Very Large Crude Carrier' (VLCC) and 'Ultra large Crude Carrier' (ULCC) in the country. Both shipyards would have additional facility of two dry-docks to accommodate vessels of up to 600,000 Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT).

Sources told Daily Times that these projects were not pursued actively by the bureaucracy in the Ministry of Ports and Shipping when some senior officials got retired from their positions.

'This happens all the time. When one officer gets retired, the projects he was looking after are put on the back burner and new priorities take the place of old ones,' reasoned a source, adding that these two projects were meant to streamline the shipping sector.

The source added that due to transfers and postings new bosses in the federal bureaucracy did not allocate funds to construct dry-docks, while lands were also not allocated for both the projects.

According to details, Gwadar Shipyard was planned at Gwadar East Bay (Shamba Ismail Area) on 500 acres (About 2 square kilometers) to carry out ship repairs in the first phase and then to be up-graded to a full-fledge ship building yard of Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) and Ultra large Crude Carrier (ULCC) size.

Gwadar Shipyard was to have additional allied facilities of two dry-docks to cater vessels up to 600,000 Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT). Similarly, Qasim Shipyard was planned to be developed near Korangi Fish Harbour in the proximity of Port Qasim jurisdiction on 500 acres (About 2 Square kilometers) with the same allied facility of at least two dry docks of 600,000 DWT.

The main function of Qasim shipyard was to be the construction of ship building of large ships up to VLCC and ULCC size, while off-shore and onshore Oil Rigs were also planned. It was supposed to provide ship repair facilities in the region.

Sourced told that both shipyards and repairing facilities were planned to be developed with minimum financial support from the federal government. These shipyards were designed to be managed with the help of private sector.

There was a provision allowing private sector operator or foreign investor to finance the yards and establish ship-designing, building, operating and maintenance facilities.

In this regard, the federal government had assigned the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW) to seek advisory services from internationally qualified and experienced firms, ideally led by a reputable international financial institution or investment bank and comprising of requisite technical, legal and other consultants who can assist the government in planning, development and implementation of these projects.

'The country could have earned potentially from ship related services like dry docking, ship repair, shipbuilding and class shipyard development, if the said projects were developed,' said the source.