KPT buying two 60-ton bollard pull tugs

The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is purchasing two 60-ton bollard pull (tbp) ASD tugs from a Turkish shipbuilding firm for 16 million euros (Rs 1.84 billion) after discarding the programme to outsource its tugging services. Last year KPT had scrapped its years-old outsourcing plan for tugging, pilotage, shipping launches, mooringun-mooring staff, station and stores staff and navigational communication staff to a Dubai based firm under landlord port concept.
Jalil Shah, former General Secretary, KPT Labour Union, however, claims that it was his union’s “political lobbying” and “aggressive campaigning” that had pressured KPT management to do away with its outsourcing plan, which was to affect some 1323 employees, mainly from Traffic Department.
According to sources, an ageing plus “under-power” tugging fleet and the resultant dire need for new tugs at Karachi Port had compelled KPT to make new acquisitions “immediately”, a situation that left the Trust with little options and bargaining leverage against Uzmar Shipyard, the shipbuilding firm from Ankara.
Another concern of KPT is the monsoon season, which has started from May 15 and would “officially” last till September 15. During this period, the wind runs fast and the waves in Pakistani waters rise over 4-meter high, thus making the presence of high powered (60-70 tbp) tugs an operational requirement for the local port operators, they added.
They said that these were the factors due to which KPT had, in January 2009, invited tenders for the purchase of two “ex shelf” (readymade) Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tugs. According to sources, almost 8-10 companies participated in the tender, but instead of others KPT gave preference to the shipyards, which usually possess the required readymade vessels, and short-listed three of them–Uzmar, Sanmar and Bogazici.
They said that keeping the other bidders on second priority, KPT was to deal with them in case of failure of negotiations with the shipyards. While KPT was busy in evaluations, one of the shipyards, Sanmar, had sold out its ex-shelf tugs to some other buyer. Meanwhile, KPT’s Tender Committee, comprising officials from the ministry and operation, engineering and planning divisions, had last month visited Turkey and inspected the tugs, sources said.
According to knowledgeable sources, within the mechanical department – off the shelf vessels designed for European waters have higher maintenance cost and shorter life span than tugs, pilot boats, etc, tailor-made for KPT. Tugs bought from Canada had to be scrapped after two years, it is said.
However, Brigadier Jamshed Zaidi, General Manger, Planning and Development Division, told Business Recorder that such transactions, particularly those involving the non-ex shelf vessels, usually require two years, and KPT had paid 40-50 percent advance to the Turkish firm.
To him, the difference of price becomes worthless when the money is involved for such a long period of time. In view of its “old” tugging fleet, KPT required new vessels “immediately”, Zaidi conceded, adding that the need for new acquisitions had arisen after the abandoning of KPT outsourcing plan for tugging service.
The KPT official said that negotiations with the two short-listed Turkish firms were complete and KPT was awaiting green signal from its Board. Asked if the tugs were ex shelf, Zaidi said tat one was almost ready and the other one would be built by December 2009. He said the two tugs, which sources think would have 70 tbp power, would arrive in Karachi Port in September and December 2009.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2009