The country’s first dedicated bulk dirty cargo terminal would be commercially operational by the end of January, 2017. Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Limited (PIBTL) has completed 95 percent of civil works and three cranes have already arrived at the terminal site.
It is expected that 100 percent civil work will be completed by December end and hopefully testing and commissioning in January 2017.
The Chief Executive Officer of PIBTL, Sharique Siddiqui on Wednesday informed that government plans to build 4.5km long conveyor belt to transport coal from the terminal to railway yard which would transport the coal to its destination.
“The industry’s objection on the conveyor belt and railway yard is natural but it’s our job to address their concerns,” he said. The world has improved a lot in technology and coal transportation is not a problem anymore. There is option of covered conveyor belts to be installed for this project. Sprinklers could be installed for coal dust suppression and the whole coal transport at Port Qasim and onward could be made in controlled environment.
He informed that PIBTL has a concession agreement with PQA that after PIBTL becomes operational, it would not handle coal at its marginal wharf but PQA has allowed a dedicated coal handling jetty at its marginal wharf to import coal for Sahiwal Project. “Although it’s against our agreement with PQA, we believe that every infrastructure related project is good for the country”, he said.
He said that Pakistan is building coal-based power plants which means that coal must be imported and transport up country. “What we need to do is to adapt best options available to handle coal at PQA and for its further transportation up country.”
He fully supported the idea of transporting coal through Pakistan Railways. “We can’t transport millions of tons of coal through trucks”. He said that railway yard at PQA is not a threat to industry. There are measures though which industry’s concerns could be addressed. “It’s a project of national interest and we must support the conveyor belt and rail transportation projects ensuring environmental friendly measures”, he said.
He informed that PIBTL is the country’s only dirty bulk cargo import and export terminal. “We can handle imported coal up to 12 million tons and can export cement and clinker too.” He said PIBTL could handle up to 20 million tons of coal should the need arises in the country. He said in 255 million dollars worth of PIBTL project, World Bank is one of the owners and financiers. “We are building this whole project under the World Bank guidelines, hence fully compliant with environmental requirements. “We must take industry on board and win their confidence before marking upon big projects like these.”
All coal-related projects should adopt the best international standards for handling as coal still amounts for 41 percent of the global power generation share and as such most countries in the world still use coal in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner.