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Gateways Not Bottlenecks: Ensuring foolproof Supply Chains in Pakistan

Dry Ports and Border terminals are in fact the extension of sea port towards their final destination, inland and hinterlands through fewer container transport corridors, thus increasing the reach of sea ports or the port of origin.

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Significance of Border Terminals in the Logistic Value Chain

Over 90% of world trade is routed through sea, including nearly 70% as containerised cargo. Goods after reaching their destination ports are transported via trailer (Bonded Carriers duly licensed by regulatory authorities) by road network to reach their inland or hinterland final consumers’ market, to its users. Inland ports normally called as Dry Ports and border crossing points termed as Border Terminals play a significant role is global value and supply chains in this conduit of trade and transportation.

These ports and terminal are located as per the requirement of inland and outbound trade, available mode of transportation and political-economy of the country. Dry ports and Border Terminal are defined by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia & Pacific(UNESCAP), Transport Division in its report on,” Roles of Dry Port in Economic Corridor” as “ A dry port provides services for the handling and temporary storage of containers, general and/or bulk cargoes that enters or leaves the dry port by any mode of transport such as road, railways, inland waterways or airports. A dry port of international importance shall refer to a secure inland location for handling, temporary storage, inspection and customs clearance of freight moving in international trade”

Dry port is also called inland port, dry port, inland clearance depot, inland container terminal, inland customs depot, and inland cargo centre.

Trade facilitation center at Ghulam Khan Kaly in North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan has already been inaugurated by Prime Minister on 30 Apr 2018

Dry Ports and Border Terminals add great value to the supply chain by providing services such as intermodal transportation, weighment and scanning operations, mechanical and manual loading/unloading or transhipment, storage as well as transit facilities to the freight and drivers. They are not merely Rest Areas or Transit Places, most important function of customs clearance is carried out here.

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These terminals are in fact the extension of sea port towards their final destination, inland and hinterlands through fewer container transport corridors, thus increasing the reach of sea ports or the port of origin. They not only enhance the opportunities to optimally accrue benefits of economies of scale but also increase the capacity in the logistic system of a country, while reducing time due to likely congestion at sea ports.

As the container transport volume continues to grow, effective supply chain management en-route and at borders crossing points to reduce the encumbrances is a logistic imperative. This is further substantiated by a research published in Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific by Violeta Roso and Kent Lumsden (2009) in following phrases:

‘…progress only in the maritime part of the transport chain and in seaport terminals, without improvements in seaport inland access, is not sufficient for the entire transport chain to function’.

Read more: Gilgit Baltistan –NLC’s new project

The readers should not infer that these ports are solely linked with sea ports only, in our case their significance is magnified due to its connectivity with mainland routes to sea, hinterland countries specially the land-locked neighbours like Afghanistan and regional access routes of established transit trades, such as specified in Afghanistan –Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA 2010), as illustrated below:-

Doing business is all about saving time and money while generating maximum returns. In this process the safety and security of trade freights or goods is of paramount significance. All traders represented by Chambers of Commerce & Industries, clearing agents and transporters’ association, unanimously demand for a safe place at the border crossing points and inland for efficient and economical handling of their goods.

In our regional context, security needs or concerns can’t be overlooked while facilitating trade and infrastructure development. Nevertheless, requirement of international standard border terminal is vital and merit due consideration. With relatively better security situation in the country including in areas along western borders, the time is ripe for establishing rather restoring traditional trade corridors by providing facilities to the traders at suitable locations.

Ensuring foolproof security and integrity of goods in transit can tap huge potential of regional trade thus turn threats into opportunities

National Logistics Cell (NLC) is the sole government organization which is providing services as Port & Border Terminal Operators (BTO). There is a strong realization at the country’s top leadership level that at selected points along existing border crossings, where besides movement of pedestrians/tourists, trade freight movement is being conducted or has a potential for bilateral or transit trade, shall be transformed from a merely a Check Post into Gateway for trade & economic activities.

Notwithstanding, without compromising the security needs and concern of the area, these points will be turned into a facilitation centre for trade under the unified management of NLC, wherein all government entities specially Pakistan customs and FIA, and representatives of traders shall work hands in gloves, thus saving time & cost of business.

NLC has already embarked upon on development of new terminals and up-gradation of existing ones at places, including at some of the very treacherous terrain and far flung areas like Sost (GB), Ghulam Khan Kaly (North Waziristan), Kherlachi (Kurrum), and Gabd (Makran Division). Trade facilitation center at Ghulam Khan Kaly in North Waziristan bordering Afghanistan has already been inaugurated by Prime Minister on 30 Apr 2018.

Read more: NLC & CPEC: A partnership of progress

An international level programme of transforming existing terminals at Chaman and Torkham under Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project of International Transit Trade Management System (ITTMS) is already underway. With these efforts, NLC will be able to provide quality services as BTO, in order to contribute its part in furtherance of our trade potentials and improve intra-regional connectivity.

Economic interdependencies have a direct impact on regional and global security calculus of a country, of which, political economy is the main pillar. Ensuring foolproof security and integrity of goods in transit can tap huge potential of regional trade thus turn threats into opportunities. In our case, NLC fits well in this calculus, using its intrinsic organisational strength and capacity to play its role in the logistic chain of the region.

Zille Hassan Hashmi is an Author, he tweets @Zille14

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