Pakistan’s state-owned shipping enterprise is planning to add two container vessels to its fleet to facilitate foreign trade at a time.
When the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on global maritime activities, officials said on Thursday. Founded in 1971, the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) currently operates six tankers and five bulk carriers which transport dry consignments and liquid cargoes globally. Pakistani exporters have also complained about the international logistics crisis which has disrupted the global supply chain due to a shortage of containers, as the situation has significantly increased freight costs around the world.
“We are working to increase the fleet strength by adding two container ships,” Captain Anwar Shah, acting chairman and member of the PNSC board of directors, told Arab News. “The purchase of ships will be done through tendering process under the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules. It may take some time, but it will be done.”
Shah did not give an exact timeframe for the induction of container ships, saying it depended on the procurement process.
Pakistani exporters have sought the government’s intervention under the present circumstances, saying that shipping lines have increased their freight costs by over 1500 percent.
“The container we got for $80 about a year ago is now available for $1300 for shipments to China,” Muhammad Anwar Mianoor, senior vice chairman of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, said.
“Shipping lines are taking out empty containers from Pakistan and sending them to Bangladesh and India despite the presence of cargo in Pakistan,” he continued, adding: “The government must step in to control the situation by taking appropriate policy measures.”
Last week, Mahmood Moulvi, special assistant to prime minister on maritime affairs, announced to launch container shipping services to mitigate the impact of the global supply chain crisis after meeting with rice exporters. “We want the PNSC to step forward and start the service by boosting its fleet,” he said.
Experts said, however, the purchase of container vessels would not be the right move at this point due to their escalating prices.
“Container ships are extremely expensive at the moment due to their dearth,” MA Rajpar, former chairman of the Pakistan Ship’s Agents Association. “The estimated cost of a container ship is somewhere between $10 million to $300 million depending on the age and capacity of the vessel,” he said. “Operating these ships is also a complicated thing requiring a lot of skill.”
Experts said with no immediate solution in sight, the global supply chain was still reeling under the impact of lockdowns imposed by countries after the coronavirus outbreak in 2019.
“The pressure on global supply chain has relaxed only about two to four percent and there is no immediate solution to the problem,” Rajpar said. “The situation is expected to take at least one to two years to normalize.”
Shipping expert anticipate the global supply chain glitches to continue in the next year as well.
Leave a Reply