Queue system at ports: Ministry plans to award contract to Jordanian firm

The federal maritime affairs ministry is now planning to award a contract to Jordanian company for the development and operation of queue management system to monitor inward and outward cargos movements at ports under the World Bank's financial assistance, despite having indigenous system to be operational at Port Bin Qasim by February 2020; it is learnt. According to sources, the said Jordanian company is aggressively making attempts to convince stakeholders to get acceptance for multi-million dollar project. The project cost is estimated at around £ 70 million, which would be funded by the World Bank, sources added.

For this purpose, a delegation of stakeholders including customs clearing agents and transporters toured Jordan where they were given detailed briefing about the system in order to get their acceptance for the project in Pakistan. However, the stakeholders, who tripped to Jordan on the invitation of the said company, appeared reluctant to champion this project especially when the indigenous queue management system is about to be operational at Port Bin Qasim by February 2020. Portraying unflattering image of the project, the stakeholders believed that it would create additional financial burden on the trade, albeit Port Qasim has decided to provide services of locally developed system for free.

Sources said that although the federal maritime affairs ministry was keen to award a contract of said project to the Jordanian company, it made it clear to them that go-ahead for the project would only be given with the approval of the stakeholders. Talking to Business Recorder, Arshad Jamal vice president FPCCI and chairman All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA), who wrote a letter to federal minister for maritime affairs Syed Ali Zaidi and expressed reservations about the project confirmed that the said company during its presentation given to the stakeholders in Jordan last November informed that the project cost was estimated to around US£70 million which would be funded by World Bank. Under this project, the company would build a truck stand on 200 acres land at Northern Bypass and all good carriers would be issued smartcards after registration and no road haulage would be allowed queue-jumping and they would only be entered into ports through its computer generated queue-number, he said.

Moreover, Arshad said that the company would charge US£20 per goods carrier for all this operation, which would be an additional cost for the trade. Furthermore, he opined that this project was not practically viable because it would make customs process more cumbersome and time-consuming as the company had planned to build truck stand at Northern Bypass and the haulage could only be permitted to go out from stand on its computer-generated call hence the time of whole customs process may increase by at least 1-2 hours due to the distance between truck stand and the ports. On the other hand, Port Qasim Authority (PQA) has allocated 35 acres of land to implement its indigenous queue management system for 600 loading vehicles at terminal by February 2020 and they would not charge single penny from trade for this purpose, he added.

Keeping the said in view, All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) has rejected the project, which would not only create additional financial burden to the trade but also make customs process more cumbersome and time-consuming, he said and urged the authority concerned to look into the matter and support locally developed system for trade facilitation.
Source: Business Recorder

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