SHC grants stay in urea handling case at Gwadar Port

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KARACHI: Two stevedores on Friday won a stay order from the Sindh High Court, allowing them to discharge urea from ships reaching Gwadar Port till the next hearing on May 13.The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has awarded the contract to Port of Singapore Authority Gwadar to offload urea as against urea handling contract given to the two stevedores, Port Star and Waqar & Co, for one year, which ends on July 31.Currently, merchant vessel Tala is docked at Gwadar and Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) is offloading 26,000 tons of urea from the vessel.Waqar Haider Zaidi, proprietor, Waqar & Co, told The News that his company got the contract after the pre-qualification and tendering process on the lowest rate of Rs798 per ton.The PSA was not part of the tendering process that the two companies went through to win the urea handling rights at the Gwadar Port, he said. The Rs798 per ton bid included Rs40 per ton royalty of PSA Gwadar, income tax, sales tax, etc, and after these deductions, we are left with Rs699 per ton. The TCP gave the contract for offloading urea from MV Tala to PSA for Rs725 per ton without any pre-qualification, or any tendering process, Zaidi said, adding that the port authority does not have to pay royalty.A senior official of the PSA Gwadar told The News that the stevedores are based in Karachi and they don t have the licence from the Gwadar port authorities to provide stevedore services.PSA, in 2008, had allowed the TCP to award tenders to their pre-qualified contractors for one specific contract of import of commodities and not for the urea. The stevedores have acquired the tender without informing that they don t have the licence of the Gwadar Port.Anjum Bashir, Chairman, TCP, told the News that the contract awarded to PSA was in line with the rules and regulations. The authority has a concession agreement, according to which, they have the right to issue stevedoring licence.The issue with the two stevedores is that they don t have a licence from the Gwadar Port to provide services, Bashir said.He said that PSA had approached the TCP for stevedoring services, as they have signed a concession agreement with the Ports and Shipping Ministry. The TCP followed all the rules and regulations and also took clearance from the PPRA and before awarding the contract to PSA consulted the Ports and Shipping Ministry, the TCP chief said.Previously, PSA was not equipped for stevedoring services, but it has installed all equipment for it and now they want to do cargo handling.However the TCP chairman said that whatever the decision of the court comes, discharge of urea should not be stopped because it is for sowing of Kharif crops, including rice and cotton. If litigation delays urea supply, the vital cash crops of Kharif will suffer and the urea will be of no use if it is made available after the lapse of sowing days for rice and cotton.

Courtesy : The News


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