The ship Union Mariner laden with 57, 941 tons of canola seeds berthed at Port Qasim Authority on March 20 had discharged over 30,000 tons of canola seeds by March 22 morning and the remaining cargo is expected to be discharged by Saturday night. Union Mariner was earlier destined for KPT but it was later diverted to Fauji Akbar Portia Marine Terminals Ltd (FAP) at Port Qasim Authority.
PQA sources said no other terminal in the country could provide such efficient discharging services in such a short span of time. Earlier, in response to a story appeared in Business Recorder on March 20 regarding diverting the ship from KPT to PQA, Seatrade an agent of Glencore, had said that neither Glencore nor its agent in Pakistan had any power to shift the vessel to Karachi Port or Port Qasim.
Najib Balagamwala of Seatrade in his clarification note to Business Recorder alleged that discharge cost of FAP terminals was very high and that FAP was using same machinery and berth to discharge urea and dap which was more dangerous than discharging coal, while during coal discharge at KPT, containers were placed to prevent the contamination.
He further mentioned that solvents and oil mills were very careful on that issue and in fact they were worried that FAP terminal was handling urea and dap and complaints of mixing of fertiliser with canola were there. Many solvents were fed up with poor handling of solvent by FAP at Rs 600 per metric ton while discharging rates at KPT were Rs 350 per metric ton. Solvents and oil mills were worried that FAP was handling Indian wheat which had karnal bant, he said.
He had also alleged that FAP had no rice handling machinery but it had been given monopoly to handle rice at double the rate of Port Qasim marginal wharf and Karachi Port. He denied that Glencore or its agent did not shift the vessel from KPT to PQA and insisted that the story published in Business Recorder was “devoid of facts”.
When Business Recorder contacted FAP terminals to comment on the allegations levelled by Seatrade, its spokesman said FAP had state of the art equipment that offered five times quicker discharge than any other facility of its kind in Pakistan and discharging over 30,000 tons of canola in just two days time is a proof of why grain importers preferred FAP’s automatic bulk cargo terminal over conventional grain handling systems.
He said FAP was the only dedicated grain and fertiliser terminal which had secure and weather-proof storage facilities for oilseed imports and had the least handling losses and no pilferages. FAP offers all the abovementioned advantages through installation of costly equipment and machinery. It cannot be, therefore, compared with a stevedore using makeshift manual machinery. In view of the aforesaid FAP charges a premium amount, which the customers are willing to pay against the facilities being offered by it. And that is the sole reason it is serving the customers of MV Union Mariner despite the KPT rates being lower.
Clarifying further, he described the statement as “false” that equipment used to handle urea and DAP at FAP was similar to the equipment used at KPT, saying that FAP’s enclosed conveyors and separate storage areas ensured that no cross contamination took place at the terminal.
He said Indian wheat handled at FAP was aid cargo destined for Afghanistan and had clearances from relevant departments. Incase this wheat was infected by Karnal Bant these clearances would not have been in place. It does not handle vessel without proper documentation and clearances. He said Balagamwala was sadly mistaken; FAP had the requisite machinery to handle bagged and bulk rice cargo. He said that on March 16, Seatrade through an email informed FAP that the vessel MV Union Mariner was going to KPT and on March 18, FAP again received an email from Seatrade informing that the vessel MV Union Mariner was coming to FAP.
In its clarification on the issue, KPT said that cargo handling at KPT took place according to international quality standards. KPT spokesman said the notion that vessel was diverted to Port Qasim to avoid cross contamination was not correct. KPT is cautious and adheres to international best practices; its emphasis is on international safety standards necessary for various kinds of cargoes. It further clarified that there was no issue of cross contamination for simultaneously handling canola and coal shipments at KPT.
It said that those days global maritime sector put a lot of weight on safety issues and gross penalties were levied on ships calling at the port to make the shipping and port sector efficient and safe for cargo transportation. Under such tight limitations ports also face pressures to handle consignments according to approved safety standards. KPT is an all-weather 24/7 port with reconstructed berths, deeper draft in comparison to meet economy of scales and is user friendly preferred port for handling all types of cargoes. This correspondent is still confused if Glencore or its agent in Pakistan, Seatrade didn’t divert the ship from KPT to FAP terminals at PQA, then on whose decision was this ship diverted?”