Pakistan’s biggest port ‘Kemari’ has been witnessing a serious problem for a decade now. The Karachi Port Trust hasn’t been provided reliable road connectivity to the port, leading to frequent traffic jams over the Jinnah Bridge. Although the work with regard to the port commenced in the year 2006 and initially an investment of $1.2 billion was put aside for the work, the construction work hasn’t been completed to date. The initial investment was shared by the KPT, the port operator and the South Asia Pakistan Terminals and none of them took any step to speed up the work.
Because of the indispensable role of the port, much attention was given to expedite the development work on the port. The road connectivity was an important aspect of the project since the port was located in the central Kemari which is one of the most densely populated areas of Karachi. The port is also surrounded by another populated area of the city, Clifton, therefore, the general consensus was to build a separate passage for heavy vehicles carrying containers with the goal to avert traffic from entering the downtown.
However, the project couldn’t be materialised. Late, the authorities introduced an alternative plan under which $500 million were approved for the construction of an elevated expressway. The expressway would have started from Kemari, gone through MA Jinnah Road and the Jinnah Bridge and rest at the Northern Bypass. This alternative plan, however, couldn’t see the light of the day.
Since December, the port has arranged the berthing of around 122 container vessels. This means that the port has managed the loading and unloading of around 270,000 TEUs. TEU, the short form of twenty-foot equivalent units, is the standard unit used to measure shipping container volume.
Why is Road Connectivity Important?
Because of frequent traffic jams and gridlocks, the movement of vehicles to and from the port is often disturbed. This is why, at times, the port management only unload half of the cargo received.
This problem cannot be resolved unless proper and permanent road connectivity is provided to the port. The separate passage will let heavy vehicles to transport goods without any hindrances.
When vehicles are stuck in traffic for long hours, they waste a lot of fuel. For example, hypothetically speaking, if a truck is stuck for one hour, it loosely loses fuel worth Rs. 200.This loss of fuel is added to transportation cost and the higher cost of goods sold affects the bottom line of companies’ financial statement.
Traffic jams also have negative effect on the turnover time taken by truck drivers. For example, if the two-way distance from Point A to Point B is covered in 60 minutes, traffic congestion increases the estimated time as a result. Depending on the situation of the traffic, a two-way distance which would normally take 60 minutes could take almost two hours to be covered. This significantly reduces the number of turns a truck owner takes to transport goods. If proper roads are built, more trucks or a single truck can be loaded and unloaded multiple times at the port.
The port management can also introduce truck calling system. Under this system, all trucks have to make appointments after which they will be called by the terminal operator when needed. This reduces the number of trucks queuing at the port and the bottlenecks experienced by truck drivers at the entry gate can be reduced significantly.