Malaysia starts ‘double dip’ shipping service for Pakistan

KARACHI (April 21 2009):
Malaysia has commenced its upgraded Halal Express Service (HES) for
Pakistan with the maiden call of a large vessel at Pakistan
International Container Terminal (PICT) on Monday. ‘The volume of
bilateral trade between Pakistan and Malaysia was recorded at $1.8
billion during last year,’ Malaysian Deputy High Commission to
Pakistan, Mohammed Khalid Abdul Razak told in a ceremony held at PICT
to mark the commencement of HES.

The event was attended by the
Managing Director, ISPI Corporation (Pvt) Limited, Kareem Ispahani,
former Malaysian Ambassador and politico-industrial tycoon, Zia
Ispahani and Captain Mahzan, the master of MV Bunga Raya Dua, which has
12-meter draft and 2500 TEUs onboard.

Commenting on the trade volume of Pakistan, the Chairman, PICT, Captain Haleem A Siddiqui told Business Recorder that
global recession had shrunk the trade volume of the country by more
than 20 percent. However, Monday’s arrival of the ship would usher in a
new era at Karachi Port, which under HES would frequently be visited by
14-meter draft’s larger vessels of MISC Berhad, the national flag
carrier of Malaysia.

Addressing the occasion, MD ISPI
Corporation, which is an exclusive agent of MISC Berhad in Pakistan,
said his firm, which was the world’s top carriers of LNG cargo, would
ensure 104 calls annually to Karachi Port.

Highlighting the
prominent features of the new service, he said in line with its aim to
serve the ever-growing needs of the Pakistani and Gulf consumers, MISC
Berhad had upgraded HES by deploying larger vessels and offering wider
port coverage with additional direct calls.

Further, MISC would
be deploying 6 x 4,250-TEU class vessels, to be among the largest ones
calling at Karachi Port, on a 42 days round voyage, he added. The new
service, which would cover Far East, South East Asia, Indian
Sub-Continent and Middle East, would be operated by MISC independently
on the following port rotation:
Shanghai/Ningbo/Shekou/Jakarta/Singapore/Port of Tanjung Pelepas/Port
Kelang/Karachi/Jebel Ali/Bandar Abbas/Karachi/Nhava Sheva/Colombo/Port

The new service would be unique by
virtue of its ‘Double Dip’ at Karachi, calling PICT both on the West
Bound as well as East Bound voyages, Ispahani added. The HES would also
offer the fastest route from Port Kelang to Karachi. With the addition
of Jakarta into its new port rotation, MISC would also be the only
carrier to have a direct service from Indonesia to Pakistan and the
Middle East. ‘We have requested the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to
rationalise its port tariffs, inline with its regional competitors,’ he

Looking forward for more co-operation, Malaysia’s Deputy
High Commission, Mohammed Khalid Abdul Razzak said that the two
brotherly countries had been the time-tested friends in good as well as
bad times. He said that out of total $1.8 billion bilateral trade
between Islamabad and Kuala Lumpur, the former’s contribution was $150
million only in terms of exports to his country.

Restricting his speech to a vote of thanks on the occasion, the PICT Chief, Captain Haleem later told Business Recorder that
the KPT was committed to ensuring a 14-meter deep channel at Karachi
Port, which was striving to accommodate big vessels. Asked about the
traders’ longstanding complaints on sky-high Terminal Handling Charges
(THC) at PICT, Siddiqui said, ‘We would certainly charge the traders
for the services we provide to them.’

Furthermore, ruling out
the possibility of reducing the THC, he said the KPT was considering to
slash the ‘port dues’ to make Karachi Port more attractive for
business. The Director and Chief Operating Officer of PICT, Sharique A
Siddiqui however said that factors like an indigenous nature of
Pakistan’s trade, a record handling of 46,500 TEUs at PICT in March,
would help Pakistan recover fast.