Karachi Port, also known as the Port of Karachi, is one of the busiest ports in Pakistan honoured with being one of the largest and most active seaports in South Asia. The port handles almost 60% of the country’s cargo, which estimates up to an average of 25 million tons annually. The deep seaport is located on the coast of one of the best beaches in Karachi – Manora Beach – and it is controlled and managed by the Karachi Port Trust (KPT).
Keep reading the blog to find out some interesting and lesser-known facts about the Port of Karachi!
Location of the Port of Karachi
Located close to two other islands near Karachi – Baba & Bhitt Island – Karachi Port is well-linked to Karachi’s posh localities and two of the most important coasts, including Manora Beach and Clifton Beach. Moreover, Karachi Port is often referred to as Kemari Port by the locals since it is situated near Kemari Town, which is the only coastal town in the city. Additionally, Saddar Town is also adjacent to this highly esteemed seaport in Karachi.
Moreover, the port is divided into two main dockyards and eight sub waterfronts. The two main dockyards of Karachi Port are known as West Wharf & East Wharf, and these waterfronts are not more than 3.8 km away from each other.
History of the Port of Karachi
The history of the Port of Karachi is as old and ancient as the city itself. Several well-known conquerors, travellers, and explorers have mentioned the seaport in their writings and travel guides. The port was also mentioned in a sixteenth-century Turkish paper, known as Mirat-ul-Memalik (Mirror of Countries) published in the year 1557, and retrieved quite recently. Being used as a travel guide by sailors back then, the article suggested finding a place to stay in Karachi Harbour when the sea gets wild with whirlpools, and the weather gets a little out of the vessel.
Before the independence movement, Sindh used to be a princely state and the dockyard also served as a gateway for the British companies, mainly after 1783, because of its near-perfect location. While in the middle of the eighteenth-century, the seaport also served as a landing point for troops during the first Afghan war.
Moreover, Karachi started developing as a port city by the year 1852 and so did the seaport. Karachi port stepped into a new era of modernisation with completely revamped warehouses and storage areas. And, the linkages to the national international harbours were also developed at the same time. The development was followed with a few other projects that uplifted many nearby areas of the seaport:
- 1854: Construction of Manora breakwater, Kemari Groyne, the Napier Mole Bridge and the Native Jetty Bridge.
- 1882: Inauguration of the developmental work for several berths and wharves.
- 1927: Completion of East Wharf.
Right after 1947 when Pakistan emerged as a separate independent state, the Karachi Port saw some massive developments within a few years. Here’s a list of some noteworthy events that shaped the structure of what we call today as the Port of Karachi – the hub of international shipping lines:
- 1994: Completion of West Wharf.
- 1996: Inauguration of Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) at West Wharf, berth number 28-30. The terminal can host around 300,000 containers per year and can handle cargo ships up to 11-metre draught.
- 2002: Induction of Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT) at the East Wharf, berth number 6-8. The terminal alone can consign around 3,50,000 TEUs annually, along with handling cargo ships with 11.5-metre draught.
- 2010: Construction of the third terminal called Pakistan Deep Water Container with a total of ten berths.
Facilities at the Port of Karachi
Karachi is home to two main harbours of the country: Port Qasim and Karachi Port. We have already elaborated on the facilities at the former, while this piece is mainly focused on the latter.
To begin with, Karachi Port has played an essential part in developing one of the most populated and biggest metropolises in the world. The economy of the country relies heavily on the income that is generated from the trade and shipments being handled by the port of Karachi. The port hosts a deep and natural wharf that is quite useful in providing safe navigation for vessels up to 75,000 tons DWT. However, the main activities are only carried out in the two wharves due to their proximity to the main city – East Wharf is close to Kemari Town, while West Wharf is close to Saddar Town.
Just like any other seaport, the Karachi Port is at the centre of cross-border trade and shipping since it is powered by all the necessary amenities, including terminals/berths, godowns, and storage areas for national and international shipping lines. Besides controlling the flow of cargo to and from the harbour, the seaport is also a home for ship repair facilities, naval dockyard, fishing harbours, boat clubs, and shipyard. Here’s a list of some more facilities that are expected to elevate the level of services offered by the Karachi Port:
- Capacity increment in KICT from 300,000 containers to 400,000 containers per year, with the inauguration of two new berths.
- Induction of a new terminal for bulk cargo at East Wharf.
- The oldest oil dock will be revamped to make space for loading tanks of 90,000 tonnes DWT.
- Installation of a new desalination plant to address the water shortage issues of the city.
- Launch of a new Port Club at China Creek, adjacent to East Wharf.
About Karachi Port Trust
The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is a federally administered agency for ports and harbours. The agency falls under the control of the Secretary to the Government of Pakistan for Maritime Affairs, who mainly supervises the operations of the Karachi Port. The head office of the agency is situated in Karachi on Napier Mole Road.