Port of Karachi ( ) is Pakistan's largest
and busiest seaport, handling about 60% of the
nation's cargo (25 million tons per annum).
The port is located between the towns of Kiamari
close to the heart of old Karachi, the main business district, and
several industrial areas. The geographic position of Karachi places the
port in close proximity to major shipping routes such as the
The administration of the port is carried
out by the Karachi Port Trust
which was established in the nineteenth century.
The Port of Karachi and Harbour with
some of the city residential areas visible.
The history of the port is intertwined with that of the city of
Karachi. Several ancient ports have been attributed in the area
including "Krokola", "Morontobara" (Woman's Harbour) (mentioned by
(the Periplus of the Erythraean
, and Debal
(a city captured by the
general Muhammad bin Qasim
in 712 CE).
There is a
reference to the early existence of the port of Karachi in the
"Umdah", by the Arab navigator Sulaiman al Mahri (AD 1511), who mentions
Karazi" and "Ras
Karashi" while describing a route along the coast from
Pasni to Ras
also mentioned in the sixteenth century Turkish treatise Mir'ât ül Memâlik (Mirror of
Countries, 1557) by the Ottoman
captain Seydi Ali Reis, which is a
compilation of sailing directions from the Portuguese island of
Diu to Hormuz in the
Persian Gulf. It warns sailors about whirlpools and advises
them to seek safety in "Kaurashi" harbour if they found themselves drifting
There is a
legend of a prosperous coastal town called Kharak in the
estuary of the Hub River (west of modern
Karachi) in the late seventeenth
and early eighteenth century.
heavy rains silted up the harbour and resulted in the merchants of
Kharak relocating to the area of modern Karachi.
1729, they built a new fortified town called Kolachi
(also known as Kalachi-jo-Kun
) on high ground north of
Karachi bay, surrounded by a high mud and timber-reinforced wall
with gun-mounted turrets and two gates.
facing the sea was called "Kharadar" (salt gate), and the gate facing the
River was called "Mithadar"
The modern neighbourhoods around the
location of the gates are called Mithadar and Kharadar.
by mangrove swamps to the east, the sea to the southwest, and the
Layari river to the north, the town was well defended and engaged
in a profitable trade with Muscat and Bahrain.
From 1729 to 1783 the strategic location of Kolachi saw the town
change hands several times between the Khans
and the rulers of Sind. In
1783, after two prolonged sieges the town fell to the Talpur Mirs
of Sind, who constructed a fort
mounted with cannons on Manora
island at the
The prominence of the port attracted the British
, who opened a factory
in Karachi at the end of the eighteenth century but disagreements
with the Mirs on trade tariffs led to the closure of the
British were concerned about Russian expansion towards the Arabian Sea, so in 1839 they occupied Karachi and later the
whole of the Sindh.
The port served as a landing point for
troops during the First Afghan
century Jhirk was the busiest river port and
centre of commercial activity in Sindh.
also served as the headquarters of the Indus flotilla
, the most modern navigational
system of those days.
Karachi Port near Karachi was
connected to Jhirk the head quarter of
Indus flotilla , which was in
Jhirk town near Kotri and then it
will go up to Mithankot Rajanpur near
Khan and then to the last point Makhad Attock.
part of Indus flotilla
and the Indus flotilla
British Indus flotilla of
steamboats .which once plied the Indus river is
described by (Shaw 1998).
Hassan Ali Effendi
the Famous educationist who was instrumental in Establishing
Sindh Madrasatul Islam
to Work at Indus flotilla
early years while learning English. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed_Ali_Jinnah
was one his student
at Sindh Madrasatul Islam
Indus was an important artery of communication between
Karachi and Jhirk Near
Kotri Sindh, was an
important river port.
used large quantities of firewood and it was kept to
fuel steamboats. Hassan AliEffendi
account of the incoming and outgoing wood and Steam boats.
It was because of the commercial importance of the town that the
Aga Khan the
first or Awal in Urdu/
Persian, constructed his palace over there. Another testimony to
the importance of Jhirk is that one of the oldest British era
schools in Sindh, 15 years older than Karachi’s Sindh Madrasatul Islam
, was also
established in Jhirk
, and is still functioning
is also the birthplace of the founder of
Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
A number of British companies opened offices and warehouses in
Karachi and the population increased rapidly. By 1852, Karachi was
an established city with a population of 14,000 and a prosperous
The modern port began to take shape in 1854, when the main
navigation channel was dredged and a mole or causeway
was constructed to link the main harbour
with the rest of the city. This was followed by construction of
Manora breakwater, Keamari Groyne, the Napier Mole Bridge
and the Native Jetty Bridge
. The construction of
the wharves started in 1882, and by 1914 the East Wharf and the
Napier Mole Boat Wharf were complete while 1927 and 1944, the West
Wharf, the lighterage berths and the ship-repair berths were
constructed between 1927 and 1944.
From the 1861 the Sindh Railway line connected Karachi to the
cotton and wheat producing areas of the Sindh and northern British India
and by 1899 Karachi was the
largest wheat and cotton exporting port in South Asia. The period between
1856 and 1872 saw a marked increase in trade, especially during the
American Civil War when cotton
from Sindh replaced American cotton as a raw material in the
British textile industry and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Another major export was oil brought by rail
from the Sui region in Balochistan.
Karachi's importance as a gateway to India increased in 1911 when
the capital of British India was moved to Delhi. The city was an
important military base during the First
(1914-18) because it was the first Indian port of
call for ships coming through the Suez Canal and was the gateway to
Afghanistan and the Russian Empire. In 1936 the Sindh district of the
Bombay Presidency was reorganised
as a new province with Karachi as the capital instead of the
traditional capital of Hyderabad.
This led to new public services and
buildings, thus increasing its population and importance.
Karachi was again a military base and port for supplies to the
Russian front during the Second World
(1939-1945). In 1947, Karachi became the capital of the
new nation of Pakistan, resulting in a growth in population as it absorbed
hundreds of thousands of refugees.
the capital moved to Islamabad in 1959, Karachi remains the economic center of
Pakistan, accounting for the largest proportion of national GDP
based in part on the commerce conducted through the Port of Karachi
and Port Qasim.
The port was targeted by the Indian Navy
(codenamed Operation Trident
during the hostilities of the 1971 war.
The port comprises a deep natural harbour with an 11 kilometre long
approach channel which provides safe navigation for vessels up to .
The main areas of port activity are two wharves
; East Wharf with seventeen vessel berth
and West Wharf with thirteen vessel
berths. The maximum depth alongside the berths is currently 11.3
metres. The two wharves extend in opposite directions along the
upper harbour – the East Wharf northeast from Kiamari Island and
the West Wharf southwest from Saddar town. The two wharves each
include a container terminal:
A Frieghtliner at the dock.
- Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) opened in 1996
at West Wharf berths 28-30. It has a handling capacity of 300,000
per annum and handles container ships up to 11-metre draught. The
total quay length is 600 metres divided into two container berths.
The terminal is equipped with three Panamax
cranes and one post-Panamax crane.
- Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) in 2002 at
East Wharf berths 6-9. It has a handling capacity of 350,000 TEUs
per annum and handles container ships up to 11.5 metre draught. The
total quay length is 600 metres divided into two container berths.
The terminal is equipped with two Panamax cranes.
- KICT and PICT have a nearby competitor in the privately
operated Al-Hamd International Container Terminal (AICT), which
opened in 2001 at a site west of the Layari river. AICT is situated
next to the Sindh Industrial Trading
Estate, the new truck stand at Hawkes Bay Road and close to the
RCD Highway, Super
Highway and the future Layari Bypass.
There are also three liquid cargo-handling berths (oil piers), two
ship repair jetties and a shipyard and engineering facility. The
shipyard carries out shipbuilding and repair for both commercial
and military customers on a 29-hectare (70 acres) site at the West
Wharf. The facilities include a large shipbuilding hall, three
shipbuilding berths, two dry-docks and three foundries.
The flow of cargo to and from the port is hampered by severe
congestion in the harbour with several other maritime facilities
located close to the port. Adjacent to the West Wharf is the
Karachi Fishing Harbour, which is administered separately from the
port and is the base for a fleet of several thousand fishing
vessels. The West Wharf also hosts a ship repair facility and
shipyard and a naval dockyard at the tip of the wharf, while to the
south of the port are the Karachi Naval
and the Kiamari Boat Club
The Port of Karachi also faces competition from a new private
terminal located 5 kilometres to the west. In recent years the
federal government has
attempted to alleviate the increased congestion by constructing a
second port in Karachi thirty kilometres to the east at Port Qasim and a third major port at Gwadar, about 650
kilometres west of Karachi.
Karachi Fishing Harbour has been upgraded recently, and a second
fishing harbour has been built 18 kilometres away at Korangi. The transfer of some naval vessels to the
new naval base at Ormara has brought
about further reductions in congestion.
Further deepening of the port has been planned by the Karachi Port
Trust in order to enhance facilities. The channel is being dredged
initially to 13.5 metres deep to cater for 12 metre draught vessels
at all tides. At Kiamari Groyne
located at the outer tip of the harbour, dredging will be to 16.5
metres to enable vessels up to 300 metres long to dock. Other
projects to expand the port include:
- An increase the handling capacity of KICT from 300,000 TEUs to
400,000 TEUs per annum
- Two new berths at KICT with 14 metres depth alongside and an
additional 100,000 m² terminal/stacking area
- Installation of modern facilities at PICT (completed in April,
- A new bulk cargo terminal at East
- Reconstruction of the oldest oil pier to allow tankers of to
- A new cargo village to cater for containers and general and
- Reconstruction of the 100-year old NMB Wharf to enhance the
berthing of passenger vessels
- The purchase of a new dredger, two hopper barges, two harbour
tugs, two water barges, an anchor hoist vessel, two pilot boats,
and a dredger tender
- A new desalination plant to
address the city's water shortage problem
- A high Port Tower for commercial and recreational use including
a revolving restaurant
- The construction of a 500 acre (2 km²) Port Town with 13,000
homes for port workers at nearby Hawkes Bay
- A new Port Club at Chinna Creek adjacent to the East Wharf
On November 9
, 2007, the Karachi Port
Trust signed a US$1 billion agreement with Hutchison Port Holdings
to construct a new
terminal called the "Pakistan Deep Water Container Port
", which would begin
operations by 2010, and would have ten berths capable of handling
Super Post Panamax
The area around the harbour includes several mangrove forests
which are constantly under
threat from human activities. To the east of the port lies Chinna
Creek, which covers about 6 km² and is dotted with mangrove
islands. To the southwest of the port is another much larger
mangrove forest in the bay formed by several islands and Manora
breakwater; the river Layari flows into this bay, bringing waste
from upstream suburbs.
The beach immediately east of the harbour was the scene of a
significant oil spillage when the Greek-registered Tasman Spirit
ran aground on July 28
2003. The environmental impact included
large numbers of dead fish and turtles and damage to a key mangrove
forest, as well as dozens of people suffering nausea.
The Karachi Dock Labour
(KDLB) is responsible for labour relations between
employees and the Karachi Port Trust. In October 2006, the Pakistan
government decided to close down Karachi Dock Labour Board by the
end of the year as part of its port strategy and under the National Trade Corridor
programme. The closure of KDLB would cost around Rs 4.2 billion
($70 million) to the national exchequer.
- Dr Allama Daudpota