Days after the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) announced the induction of two new vessels in its fleet, it has emerged that the two expensively acquired vessels were good for only five and a half years while its chairman is refusing to vacate his seat even though a successor has been announced by the prime minister.
This was disclosed on Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs. The committee met at the Parliament House on Tuesday with Senator Rubina Khalid in the chair.
Officials of the PNSC told the committee that recently, on the instructions of the former PNSC chairman, the corporation had bought two vessels worth $42.75 million. The vessels will be titled MT Sargodha and MT Mardan. MT Mardan was inducted into the fleet on August 3 while MT Sargodha was inducted within a week of that. It increased the PNSC fleet to 13 vessels and enhanced PNSC’s cargo capacity from 0.832 million metric tons to 1.046 million metric tons, the highest since PNSC’s creation in 1979.
The PNSC now has six tankers to transport crude oil, two tankers for finished oil and five bulk carrier tankers.
The committee said that both vessels were 14.5 years old but their remaining life is five and a half years only.
The committee chairman directed the Maritime Affairs Ministry to initiate an inquiry into the matter and also to refer it to the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission.
During the meeting, Senator Khalid expressed her resentment over PNSC Chairman Rizwan Ahmed’s refusal to vacate his office even after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had recently appointed Admiral Jawad Ahmed to the post.
She maintained that refusal to comply with the prime minister’s directive was a criminal offence and henceforth refused to receive a briefing from him.
Senator Khalid further directed to take stern action against Ahmed and curtail the financial and administrative powers of the former PNSC chairman.
While briefing the committee on the projects of the ministry listed under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) for the fiscal year 2022-2023, Maritime Affairs Ministry Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana said 16 projects are listed in the PSDP.
Of these, 13 are related to Gwadar while the remaining three pertain to the Korangi Fish Harbour.
Gwadar Port Authority Chairman Naseer Khan Kashani said that meetings are being held with the Shandong Institute of Commerce and Technology (SICT) on an exchange program to introduce courses in the Pakistan China Technical and Vocational Institute, Gwadar.
The committee chief encouraged this step, adding that the objective of the vocational institute was to equip students with technical skills and therefore efforts should be made to commence the courses at the earliest.
On acquiring land for Gwadar Port, the committee was informed that a project concept-1 (PC-1) was under consideration and would be submitted to the Planning Ministry for approval so that the acquisition of land can commence.
The meeting was attended by Senators Syed Muhammad Ali Shah Jamot, Nuzhat Sadiq, Mohammad Abdul Qadir, Moula Bux Chandio, Muhammad Akram, Naseema Ehsan, and Senator Saifullah Abro. Others who attended the meeting included Ministry for Maritime Affairs Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana, Gwadar Port Authority Chairman and other officers.