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Port operator seeks security after labour onslaught

Port operator seeks security after labour onslaught

KARACHI: After facing the reported onslaught of dock labour at the terminal on the eve of arrival of first ship, the operator of Pakistan Deep Water Port (PDWP) is seeking security assurance from the authorities before the arrival of next ship carrying second consignment of port equipment, port and shipping sources disclosed on Thursday.

The next ship carrying one ship-to-shore gantry crane and nine rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) is due in the last week of this month. These cranes are the second installment being imported by the operator of PDWP, sources said.

The first ship carrying four ship-to-shore gantry cranes and six RTGs was given berth at the deep water container port on Nov 27, 2015.

This was a sort of soft operational debut of the upcoming port at Keamari which could accommodate mother-ships having loading capacity of up to 19,000 TEUs (Twenty Feet Equivalent Unit).

But unfortunately during the process of unloading of these heavy cranes from the ship, around 1,000 dock workers forced their way into the port after breaking through the gates of the port and ransacked whatever came in their way.

The dock workers were demanding Karachi Dock Labour cess on import of these cranes and were not ready to listen to the representatives of the terminal operator, sources said.

The situation worsened to such an extent that the Chinese engineers engaged in unloading of these heavy cranes rushed back to the ship and kept looking at the deteriorating situation from over the bridge of the ship.

It assumed diplomatic dimension when anxious captain of the ship called his head office in Hong Kong to return back, sources maintained.

The terminal operator had to approach the ministry of interior seeking security and for removal of dock labour from the terminal. After efforts of police failed, Rangers were called in who brought the situation under control.

An expert on ports and shipping, Capt Rashid Abro, told Dawn that the demand by the dock labour for cess on imports at PDWP doesn’t arise because this is completely a separate entity and doesn’t not fall under the laws of Karachi Dock Labour Board (KDLB) or Karachi Port.

Above all, he said, the terminal operator South Asia Pakistan Terminals (SAPT) had entered into an agreement with the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) that there would be no labour cess at the terminal.

KPT spokesman Shafiq Ahmed Faridi said that the port management was currently holding negotiations with the union and CBA of the dock labour.

He further said that the Karachi port authority was committed to facilitate and provide security to the PDWP and its operator and would not allow such ugly incidents to re-occur.

Mr Faridi said that in any situation the Port Security Force is available and if needed could be deployed at the shore and sea to given complete security cover to the ship and its crew as well as the entire terminal of PDWP.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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