Ports are responsible of handling 90% of all global trade happening today. Regional economies rely heavily on developing shipping infrastructures that can support national as well as international trade. Pakistan is no exception. The development of the CPEC is testament to the significance Pakistan holds as a cargo destination in this part of the world. Pakistan also serve as channels to allow countries situated in far flung areas or places where sea routes are inaccessible to take advantage of trade by sea.
One of the foremost advantages that countries derive through ports is development of infrastructural facilities like road networks, railway lines, utility supply and inland waterways. Apart from this, ports contribute directly towards a rise in employment opportunities. Moreover, they also play a part in indirect employment, such as services related to banking, insurance and others.
These are some of the reasons which allow ports to be increasingly important for countries and are becoming extremely vital for some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. During the last few years, we have seen tremendous developments of sea ports in Pakistan which are playing an important role in reducing the country’s trade deficit with PICT, SAPT, QICT, KICT and Gwadar being some big names in the market, contributing significantly to change Pakistan’s economic landscape for the better.
South Asia Pakistan Terminals (SAPT) is country’s first and only deep-water container terminal, which can handle multiple vessels, carrying a load of 175,000 tons. Offering quayside depth of 16 meters to meet the growing shipping needs in the country, the terminal has the potential to compete with regional deep-sea transshipment hubs including Jebel Ali Port in Dubai, Salalah Port in Oman, Nhava Sheva and Mundra Port in India, when it comes to depth, handling big vessels, and technology.
SAPT commenced commercial operations in December 2016, with the addition of this terminal, Pakistan is now able to accommodate deep draft container ships which previously could not operate at this port. This has brought significant economic benefits to the stakeholders. These benefits include reduced costs to the country’s importers and exporters, reduction in transit time for shipments leading to efficiencies in supply chains and the creation of direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Significant investment is also being made in information technology related hardware and software akin to that being used at some of the most productive terminals globally. The terminal’s equipment is par excellence, with 11 remote-controlled Ship to Shore (STS) Cranes capable of handling the latest 22k teu vessels, supported by 31 hybrid Rubber Tire Gantry Cranes (RTGCs). The benefits of automation include lower operational costs as well as improved terminal productivity, capacity and reduction in carbon footprint.
SAPT is country’s leading container terminal operator, has been acknowledged as the ‘Port/Container Terminal of the Year – South Asia 2020’ Award. This accolade is an acknowledgment of the innovative steps being undertaken by the terminal including the introduction of state-of-the-art machinery, tools and techniques to create a hassle-free supply chain.
This port has tremendous scope when it comes to reshaping national balanced development and nourish competitive landscape. Since the port has capability of handling cumulative country’s throughput, if it works in full potential, cargo flow to and from the port may become a hindrance. To cope with it, the government need to develop more expressways to connect to highways for competing with global peers with reference to transit trade and transshipment hub. Whereas, other ports should adopt advance characteristics to magnify Pakistan’s potential, transforming it into a prime Asian hub for trade and transport activities. There is a need to focus on providing smart solutions to all its seaports in terms of improving and monitoring port infrastructure, optimizing cargo handling, automating customs clearance, encouraging intermodal transportation services, improving port and cargo safety.