Modernization of the port of Karachi
Ashique Hussain Mallah
Project Engineer Procurement,
Karachi Port Trust
The port of Karachi is one of Asia’s largest and busiest deep water ports, handling over 40 million tonnes of cargo in 2013-14. Managed by the Karachi Port Trust, its strategic location makes it one of the great trade gateways to Asia and over 60% of Pakistan imports and exports pass through its docks.
The growth in population and trade in recent decades has made the port an ever more vital part of the regional infrastructure, and the Trust has responded to that with a ‘vision to transform Karachi port into a modern, competitive, user-friendly port, and a transhipment hub for the region with hinterland connectivity’. In order to achieve this, the managers have implemented a strategy that is driving improvements in organizational skills, costs and productivity, as well as seeking to expand the size of the market that the port serves. The success of this initiative can be seen in the fact that, over the past twelve years, the port has slimmed its workforce by 57% while cargo-handling efficiency has increased by 59%.
A significant element of the modernisation plan has been investment in the infrastructure. As well as installing modern container handling facilities and dredging the harbour to allow for larger ships, the Trust has also invested in a series of vessels intended to increase the efficiency and throughput of the port. Alongside the fleet of dredgers required to keep the channels free of silt, the Trust also selected two Stan Tugs 1605 by Damen. These supply the necessary manoeuvring and navigation safety for the larger ships that are now using the docks. A Damen Multi Cat 1908 has also been purchased for use as a dredge tender.
“We were looking for highly manoeuvrable vessels with a bollard pull of around 10 tonnes that could fulfil a number of roles in addition to pushing and towing harbour craft,” said Ashique Hussain Mallah, Project Engineer Procurement at the Karachi Port Trust, who oversaw the purchasing process. “They are also used for moving equipment and spares around the port and as general support vessels operating between the workshops and visiting vessels. The proposal that Damen made to us also had an added attraction; the opportunity to take advantage of Damen’s Technical Cooperation (DTC) programme.”
Under the DTC, Damen supplied the neighbouring Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works with full design and material packages that allows its own workforce to build the craft to exact Damen specifications using preprepared components. “We worked in cooperation with Damen throughout,” continued Ashique Hussain Mallah. “The quality of the workmanship was monitored by our own consultant with support from Damen personnel and, as a result, the vessels are most satisfactory with good performance and low maintenance requirements.” To date, under the scheme seven Damen Stan Tugs 1605 have been supplied to Karachi Shipyard, providing trouble free services to Pakistan Navy and KPT.
The DTC programme operates around the world, transferring valuable skills and allowing Damen customers to remain close to their projects while taking advantage of low-cost build environments. With 1,708 vessels handled by the port in 2013/14, the tugs have been a critical component of the infrastructure.
As part of the same scheme, November saw the handing over by Karachi Shipyard of a 12 tonnes bollard pull tug to the Pakistani Navy. Named the PNT Jeedar, the ceremony was overseen by guest of honour Vice Admiral Khan Hasham Bin Saddique HI(M) Chief of Staff.
Damen Stan Tugs have been built and sold all over the world, and are valued as dependable, cost-effective harbor tugs. Damen’s policy of standardization and building for stock means that they are generally available with very short lead times, depending on the requirements of the customer. Damen is delighted that the twin Stan Tugs 1605 together with the Damen Multi Cat 1908 are playing their part in the modernised and revitalised port of Karachi, and is confident that they will give many years trouble-free service.