Port of Karachi
Port Commerce

The Government of Pakistan's Ministry of Ports and Shipping is the central authority for administering and facilitating the country's ports. The Karachi Port Trust, a Board of Trustees composed of a Chairperson and ten Trustees, administers the Port of Karachi. Trustees include five public sector representatives nominated by the Federal Government and five private sector representatives elected by private sector organizations.

The Port of Karachi lies along Pakistan's 600-mile coastline that stretches from the border with India to the Strait of Hormuz. Its central location gives the Port of Karachi excellent connections to Western China, Central Asia, and Afghanistan.

The Port of Karachi offers safe navigation for all types of commercial vessels that include container vessels, tankers, bulk carriers, and general cargo ships up to 75 thousand DWT. The Port of Karachi contains 30 berths for dry cargo and three berths for liquid cargo.

Of the 30 dry cargo berths in the Port of Karachi, 13 are located on the West Wharves, 17 are on the East Wharves. The Port of Karachi also has three berths for liquid cargo that includes petroleum and non-petroleum products. The Port of Karachi also has two container terminals operated by the private sector. In addition, the Port of Karachi has ample support facilities and systems for cargo transit, storage, and clearance that include ample rail and road service.

The Port of Karachi currently supports about 1600 ships each year, but it has capacity to handle many more vessels and much more cargo. Today, the Port of Karachi handles about 26 million tons of cargo and 650 thousand TEUs per year. Current cargo volumes include about 12 million tons of dry cargo and 14 million tons of liquid cargo.

With capacity that far exceeds current cargo volumes, average berth occupancy in the Port of Karachi ranges between 45% and 55%. Waiting time is near zero, although some seasonal backups do occur.

Stevedores in the Port of Karachi provide all equipment for loading and unloading cargo. Current 24-hour cargo-handling rates allow the Port of Karachi to move 700 tons of containers, four thousand tons of general cargo, seven thousand tons of iron scrap, seven thousand tons of fertilizer, eight thousand tons of coal, and nine thousand tons of iron and steel per day.

The Karachi Port Trust provides two 100-ton floating cranes and one 40-ton heavy-lift quay crane. The port also maintains four barges that support inter-wharf cargo movements, three for general cargo and one for dangerous goods.

The open storage area in the Port of Karachi covers over 45 hectares, and the port has about ten hectares of covered storage area. A new ten-hectare coal yard has recently opened in the Port of Karachi, and a new ten-hectare area has been added for handling scrap. The Thule Produce Yard also offers 33 hectares for export cargoes and empty containers.

The Karachi Port Trust strives to provide modern user-friendly facilities to port users for all cargo types, including both imports and exports. Regional shipping trends and global economic conditions have necessitated changes to ensure continued quality services. With the goal of making the Port of Karachi a regional transshipment hub, the Port of Karachi has embarked on a comprehensive plan for modernization.

The development plan for the Port of Karachi includes deepening channels so that they can accommodate deep-draft vessels in all tides. Phase I will bring channel depth to 13.5 meters (44.3 feet), and Phase II increases that depth to 16.5 meters (54.1 feet). The Port of Karachi plans to develop deep-draft berths at the mouth of the harbor to improve cargo-handling services. A new privately-operated container terminal is also being planned. To improve the Port of Karachi's competitiveness and cost-efficiency, the port tariff system is being revised. Port operations are being computerized and electronic monitoring is being installed to further enhance the overall effectiveness of the Port of Karachi. Private sector participation is encouraged by the Port of Karachi. The Karachi Port Trust is soliciting feedback from port users to identify ways to improve transshipment processes.

In the 2011-2012 shipping season, the Port of Karachi handled a total of almost 37.9 million tons of cargo, including over 9.9 million tons of imports and almost 11.7 million tons of exports. During the season, 1722 vessels called at the Port of Karachi, including 857 container ships, 228 bulk cargo vessels, 213 vessels carrying general cargo, and 424 oil tankers. When vessels under repair, naval vessels, bunkers, tugs, barge, and dredgers are included, the Port of Karachi handled 1755 ships.

The Port of Karachi handled nearly 26.7 million tons of dry bulk and general cargo and over 1.2 million tons of liquid bulk cargo during the shipping season. Imports included almost 16.3 million tons of dry cargo (11.8 million tons of general dry cargo and 4.6 million tons of dry bulk) and over 9.9 million tons of liquid bulk cargo. Exports leaving the Port of Karachi included 8.2 million tons of dry general cargo, over 2.3 million tons of dry bulk, and about 1.3 million tons of liquid bulk. In the 2011-2012 shipping season, the Port of Karachi handled a total of 1.5 million TEUs of containerized cargo, including over 769.3 thousand TEUs of imports and 729.9 thousand TEUs of exports.

The Port of Karachi is establishing a food street, called Port Grand, at the Native's Jetty Bridge. The area will include walkways, amusement rides, dinner cruises, and beautiful landscaping. The 13-acre facility was created by some of the world's best architects and designers utilizing the latest technology and building techniques. About 40 establishments will operate from Port Grand in the Port of Karachi.

  • Container terminals

The Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) is the leading container terminal in Pakistan. Operating in the Port of Karachi since 1998, the KICT has five berths equipped with the latest container-handling equipment. The Port of Karachi's KICT is a member of the Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) Group which maintains a network of 318 berths in 52 ports in 26 countries around the world.

Located at the East Wharves' berths 26 through 30, the KICT can accommodate vessels with maximum length of 305 meters (1000 feet) and maximum draft of 12.5 meters (41 feet). The KICT covers an area of 26 hectares. Its three berths have total berthing distance of 973 meters (3192 feet) with alongside depth of 12.5 meters (41 feet).

The KICT is fully equipped for handling containerized cargo in the Port of Karachi. Equipment includes nine container quay cranes, 29 rubber-tyred gantry cranes, six forklifts, eight empty container handlers, ten reachstackers, 58 yard tractors, and 75 yard chassis. The KICT also has 528 reefer plugs.

The Port of Karachi's KICT uses Synchronous Planning and Real-time Control System (SPARCS) software to manage the use of labor, yard space, and equipment. The KICT uses EXPRESS software to manage business transactions and produce dynamic reports that help terminal managers improve customer service, track performance, and increase profitability. Combination of the SPARCS and EXPRESS systems allows real-time cargo tracking throughout the facility.

The Pakistan International Container Terminal operates at the Port of Karachi's East Wharves at Berths 6 through 9. The PICT started operating in 2002, and it is sponsored by Premier Mercantile Services Ltd. which has been handling cargo in the Port of Karachi since 1964. It is the only container terminal in Pakistan that is both owned and operated by Pakistanis. The PICT has capacity to handle 750 thousand TEUs per year.

Vessels using the PICT can have length up to 305 meters (1000 feet) and maximum draft of 12.5 meters (41 feet). The PICT quay wall is 600 meters (1968 feet), and alongside depth of the berths is 13.5 meters (44.3 feet). In the 2009-2010 shipping season, the PICT handled over 602 thousand TEUs and served 534 vessels.

Operating 24 hours a day, the PICT has one entrance to the Port of Karachi. The approach channel is 4.3 kilometers (2.7 nautical miles) long and 300 meters (984.2 feet) wide with a depth of 12.5 meters (41 feet). Deep draft vessels (over 12 meters or 39.4 feet) can berth and unberth only at high tide.

The PICT is 6.5 nautical miles (12 kilometers or 7.5 miles) from the Port of Karachi pilot station, or a 1.5-hour trip, and pilots are available 24 hours a day. The PICT turning basin has a diameter of 425 meters (1394 feet) with a draft of 12 meters (39.4 feet). The PICT has five tugboats with 2500-3000 horsepower. The PICT can also accept breakbulk and heavy-lift cargoes with a maximum length 16.8 meters (55 feet).

The Port of Karachi's PICT covers a total area of 21 hectares, and an additional five hectares is available at the storage yards in the adjacent KPT. The PICT has capacity to store 19.5 thousand TEUs per day, and it has ground slots for 3,910 TEUs. The PICT has 300 fixed reefer outlets and 50 mobile reefer outlets.

The PICT in the Port of Karachi is equipped with six ship-to-shore quayside gantry cranes. Two of these cranes, serving post-Panamax vessels, have capacity for 41 tons and have 46-meter (150.9-foot) outreach. Four of the ship-to-shore gantry cranes have capacity for 45 tons and outreach of 54 meters (177.2 feet). The PICT also has two 35-ton mobile harbor cranes with a 32-meter (105-foot) lifting radius. Yard equipment at the PICT in the Port of Karachi includes 20 rubber-tyred gantry cranes, 21 reach stackers, ten forklifts, ten empty container handlers, a top loader, a roll-on/roll-off trailer, 70 prime movers, and 20 service vehicles.

Customer services offered at the Port of Karachi's PICT include a dedicated Customer Services and Facilitation Center that operates 24 hours a day seven days a week. The PICT maintains custom fully-integrated billing and documentation software and a web-based container tracking system.

The Port of Karachi is constructing a deep-water container port at the Keamari Groyne [PDF] yard to help the Karachi Port Trust support fifth- and sixth-generation vessels. The new port will have ten berths with a quay wall of five kilometers (3.1 miles) and with alongside depth at the berths of 18 meters (59.1 feet). The new terminal will be connected to the hinterlands by both rail and road.

  • Bulk and breakbulk terminals

Berths 1 through 17 in the Port of Karachi are located at the East Wharf. Berths 1, 2, and 3 in the Port of Karachi are dedicated to deep-draft break bulk cargo and geared containers. They can support vessels with maximum draft of 10.67 meters (35 feet). Berths 4 and 5 handle general and bulk cargo, cruise ships, naval vessels, and geared containers. They support vessels with maximum length of 186 meters (610.2 feet) and maximum draft of 10.75 meters (35.3 feet). The Port of Karachi's deep-draft Berths 11 and 12 specialize in general and bulk cargo and geared containers and can accommodate vessels to 250 meters (820.2 feet) in length with maximum draft of 13 meters (42.7 feet). Berth 13 in the Port of Karachi handles deep-draft vessels, bulk and general cargo, and geared containers. It can accommodate vessels to 250 meters (820.2 feet) with maximum draft of 11.6 meters (38.1 feet).

Berths 18 through 30 in the Port of Karachi are located at the West Wharf. Movement at Berths 18 through 23 in the Port of Karachi is restricted to daylight hours only. Berth 18 in the Port of Karachi handles general, bulk, and project cargo. It can accommodate vessels to 140 meters (459.3 feet) with maximum draft of 9.5 meters (31.2 feet). There is a 40-ton shore crane available at Berth 18. Berths 19 through 21 can accommodate vessels to 160 meters (524.9 feet) with maximum draft of 9.5 meters (31.2 feet). The Port of Karachi's Berths 22 and 23 handle general and bulk cargo, and they can accommodate vessels to 150 meters (492.1 feet) with maximum draft of 7.5 meters (24.6 feet). Berth 24 handles general, bulk, and project cargo, and Berth 25 handles bulk cement, breakbulk, and project cargo.

A new bulk cargo terminal will be added at the Port of Karachi's East Wharf, and the oldest oil pier will be reconstructed to accommodate 90 thousand DWT vessels. A new 40-hectare cargo village will be added for containers and general and bulk cargoes. The Port of Karachi's 100-year old NMB Wharf will be reconstructed to accommodate passenger vessels. Furthermore, a new 200-hectare Port Town will be constructed at Hawkes Bay with 13 thousand homes for port workers. The Port of Karachi will also purchase a new dredger, two harbor tugs, two hopper barges, two water barges, two pilot boats, an anchor hoist vessel, and a dredger tender.

  • Oil / Liquid terminals

The Port of Karachi has three multi-purpose oil terminals (OP-1, -2, and -3). These terminals can handle crude oil, edible oil, chemicals, molasses, and other liquid cargoes. OP-1 specializes in handling crude oil, high-speed diesel, motor gasoline chemicals, and ethanol. The OP-1 terminal can accommodate vessels to 259 meters (849.7 feet), maximum beam of 44 meters (144.4 feet), maximum DWT of 75 thousand tons, and maximum displacement of 95 thousand tons. Maximum draft at the Port of Karachi's OP-1 terminal is 11.88 meters (39 feet) for import and 11.28 meters (37 feet) for export.

The Port of Karachi's OP-2 terminal handles chemicals, ethanol, molasses, crude oil, palm oil, high-speed diesel, and aviation fuel. The OP-2 terminal can accommodate vessels to 259 meters (849.7 feet) with maximum beam of 44 meters (144.4 feet), maximum DWT of 75 thousand tons, and maximum displacement of 95 thousand tons. Maximum draft at the OP-2 terminal in the Port of Karachi is 11.88 (39 feet) for import and 11.28 meters (37 feet) for export.

The OP-3 terminal in the Port of Karachi handles chemicals, ethanol, molasses, crude oil, vegetable oil, naptha, low- and high-sulfur fuel oil, aviation fuel, and motor gasoline. The Port of Karachi's OP-3 terminal can accommodate vessels to 259 meters (849.7 feet) with maximum beam of 44 meters (144.4 feet), maximum DWT of 75 thousand tons, and maximum displacement of 95 thousand tons. Maximum draft for vessels using the Port of Karachi's OP-3 terminal is 12.5 meters (41 feet) for import and 12.25 meters (40.2 feet) for export.

  • Rail and intermodal connections

On January 20, 2010, the KTP inaugurated a newly-laid railway track in the Port of Karachi. The new railway track is 1.39 kilometers (0.9 miles) long. The new tracks were constructed to replace dumpers that were used to move coal to Wazir Mansion and then to the railroads and that also created severe congestion in the Port of Karachi. The new rail connectivity will eliminate the release of coal particles and allow customers to dramatically reduce their transport costs.

  • Port services

Located on the West Wharf in the Port of Karachi, the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works Ltd. complements the port's two jetties for ship repairs and its engineering facility. The Port of Karachi Shipyard is Pakistan's oldest heavy engineering works, and it is the only shipbuilding company in the country. Established in the early 1950s, it was incorporated as a limited public company in 1957. The Port of Karachi shipyard is an autonomous commercial entity under Pakistan's Ministry of Defence. It serves a wide range of customers from both within and outside Pakistan.

The shipyard covers 29 hectares, and its facilities include a large hall and three berths, two dry docks, and three foundries (iron, steel, and non-ferrous). The shipyard is used to build and repair both commercial and military vessels. The shipyard also has fabrication ships, a machine shop, and supporting facilities for carpentry, pipe fitting, and light steel fabrication. The Port of Karachi shipyard has produced over 434 cargo ships, tugboats, support vessels, naval vessels, and submarines. It has also repaired some five thousand vessels and built more than two thousand heavy engineering units. The shipyard in the Port of Karachi has capacity to build and repair medium-sized ships to 18 thousand DWT and multi-purpose cargo vessels to 26 thousand DWT.

The Port of Karachi Shipyard has three building berths, two dry docks and the ability to fabricate three ships while also repairing four major ships at the same time. This shipyard in the Port of Karachi builds naval ships like frigates, corvettes, missile craft, gunboats, assault boats, patrol craft, ammunition carriers, oil and water tankers, diving boats, and submarines. The shipyard's Heavy and General Engineering section undertakes a wide variety of mechanical and hydraulic structural works. It has also produced all kinds of cranes, industrial boilers, storage tanks, and pressure vessels as well as all types of castings and complete sugar plants.

The Port of Karachi Shipyard also built a dredger for a firm in Belgium that included the entire complement of dredging support vessels including tugboat, workboat, and barges. Recently, the shipyard constructed two 40-ton bollard pull ocean-going tugs for one of its most important customers, the Port Qasim Authority.

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