KARACHI: Berthing and departure of ships at Karachi port were briefly paralysed after pilots suspended operations on Tuesday evening due to a shortage of tugboats, official sources said.
The pilots also complained the tugboats were too old and needed heavy and regular maintenance, sources added.
The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has 10 tugboats; of them, five are shipping and five are harbour tugs. Most of them are around 20 years old.
When pilots suspended operations on Tuesday evening, only two tugs were in working condition. The pilots refused to handle vessel with two tugs and asked for a third tug as a backup. However, pilots resumed operations at noon on Wednesday after one of the tugboats were repaired.
Most of the country’s ports remain poorly equipped despite the fact that marine activities earn huge profits. About a year ago, the KPT tried to borrow two tugs for six months, but the plan was shelved after an alternative proposal was given, sources said.
The KPT was suggested to go for lease/purchase formula under which a foreign company would have been allowed to bring in their tugs and operate them for a period of three years.
Earlier this month, the KPT floated tender for purchase of tugs with an estimated cost of Rs2 billion, but no bidder participated due to short period.