Pakistan’s cement manufacturers have appealed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, the Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azhar, and the Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi, to ensure the smooth expeditious handling of imported raw materials for cement and other industries at the country’s ports at competitive rates.
The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has appealed that coal imports at Port Qasim has become a costly and time-consuming affair and needs to be addressed, otherwise it may lead to an increase in cement prices.
According to the APCMA, the exclusivity granted to just one terminal at Port Qasim as a shared facility for the handling of imported coal has resulted in severe congestion, which is now causing some serious threats not only to the cement industry but also the power and textile sector of Pakistan.
As a result, coal importers are now facing a delay of up to 7-10 days for the offloading of their consignments, which is not only causing production disruptions but also an additional cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of vessel demurrage, resulting in increased production costs and the preventable depletion of precious foreign reserves.
The association has stated that the handling of imported coal was impacted when the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the closure of Karachi Port (KPT) for coal offloading in a bid to reduce environmental problems. There is now only one berth at Port Qasim. Presently, it handles about 10-12Mta of coal, which will grow to 16Mta next year.
The APCMA appeal includes ensuring availability and opening of all berths for coal importers at Port Qasim for unloading through geared vessels, which is cheaper by US$3/t, and passing a bill in the Federal Cabinet to allow industrial importers to use KPT for coal vessel unloading and the direct delivery of their consignments. Finally, to allow the priority berthing of coal vessels at all berths of Port Qasim and KPT.