Gwadar may lose business to Iranian port of Chabahar – Part 1

Oleh: saksher
May 12, 2009

The Gwadar Port that was envisioned to become a trans-shipment port and shipping hub for the landlocked Central Asian States (CAS), Afghanistan and Western China may lose this opportunity to the fast developing Iranian port of Chabahar, a Gwadar Port official said.

The Gwadar Port is yet to become fully operational. The running of the port affairs was given to Port of Singapore Authority (PSA), one of the biggest port operators, so that it will fetch considerable business for making Gwadar Port a success.

The PSA has not fulfilled its business plan of making the port fully operational by 2008. The PSA says the government has failed to provide basic infrastructure including road and rail links that are the main impediments in Gwadar Port development.

To ensure that the port stays a viable destination the Gwadar Port official suggested resuming container business immediately even if in small amount through PSA or if they fail through own resources.The government should bear the cost of road transportation to resume export activity from Gwadar Port, he said.The official suggested restricting PSA to the present terminal and the areas adjacent to the terminal handed over to them may be retrieved and handed over to Gwadar Port Authority.

The official further said that master plan of Gwadar Port need to be approved, presently it is approved in principle but nothing so far has been done. Master Plan will protect the entire east bay and coastline east of Surbandar. By securing Master Plan, the basic theme of converting Gwadar Port into a hub port will be secured.

In order to attract sustainable business like Afghan Transit Trade or container cargo at Gwadar Port, one of the viable options is to complete road connectivity of the Port with Chaman and Afghanistan followed by shifting total or part of Afghan transit trade to Gwadar Port.

The land required for Free Zone has been dropped due to its high cost (Rs 6.7 billion). It is suggested that the concerned agency at the Federal Government level may be requested to remand the case to the District Government authorities for review and submission of a workable plan, the official said.

The construction of East Bay Expressway may be undertaken on a fast track as the present arrangement for passage of the cargo truck within town has lot of repercussions. The concerned agency may be directed to execute the development work on priority.

According to government official it is justified to extend Rs.585million subsidy to the Gwadar Port to make it viable. Government supported Port Qasim for ten years to make port fully functional, he reminded. Similarly this will help the Gwadar Port to operate and serve the basic purpose of the port and generate revenues and job opportunities for the people.

He further stated that Stevedoring/Clearing/Ship Agency License to be given to locals and training should be given to the locals in cargo handling to reduce their grievances.It is learnt that Port of Singapore Authority is trying to attract Afghan Transit Trade and get mining sector to export copper and chrome from Gwadar Port. In this regard PSA is briefing the government of Balochistan to work on connectivity.

It is also said that PSA is pursuing the government to add Gwadar Port in Afghan Trade Notification so that some trade should be started from Gwadar as well.However ports and shipping industry shows reservation on PSA’s role and said that PSA submitted plan for 40 years specifying business in Gwadar.

According to the PSA business plan the port was to be operational by 50 percent in 2007 and 100 percent in 2008 and had indicated business comprising of coal and container cargo.The plan also indicated approximate revenue generation for Gwadar Port Authority during the period 2007 and 2008. But PSA, so far relied totally on TCP to have business and lucrative subsidies. It has totally failed in bringing in business to Gwadar Port specially containers.

However PSA says that ports are not run in isolation, port are catalyst for trade and in the absence of basic infrastructures, free zone industrial areas and most importantly the connectivity links to the ports which are major hurdles in running the ports. PSA has fulfilled all agreed requirement but government so far has failed to fulfil the agreed requirements of the ports.

NOTE: The resource taken from thenews.

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