January 18, 2008


Filed under: ELECTIONS - 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 3:38 am

Friday, January 18, 2008

Eying for the pie! 

Maqbool Malik

ISLAMABAD – Caretaker Minister for Railways, Mansoor Tariq seems to be in an inexplicable haste in striking a deal over lucrative multi-million dollars project that experts think is not supported by a proper feasibility report.
TheNation learnt from credible sources Thursday that the minister made a follow-up visit to Lahore two days ago and discussed modalities with investors for a Rs.1,729 Million ($27.8M) deal that was originally set for signing on the 7th of January.
A senior official in the ministry who requested not to be named conceded that the feasibility of the 35 years public-private partnership project was made on the basis of the annual income Pakistan Railways would generate rather than the volumes, as experts opined, it would eventually handle.
A joint venture of Pakistan Railways, Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) and Premier Mercantile Services (PMS), the Lahore-based Prem Nagar Dry Port project, which would handle major share of country’s imports and exports through containers, is assessed by experts to be worth more than agreed projections.
They insist that the share of income Pakistan Railways has agreed to generate from the project was ‘just peanuts’. They sought adjournment of the signing until an elected government comes to power.
Informed sources said that Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT), which is a subsidiary of Dubai-based international container terminal operator Dubai Ports World (DP World), has a major business interest in the project in line with its existing operations through Muhammad bin Qasim Port as Prem Nagar project would render the potential investor a greater mileage in clinching country’s north trade and easy access to landlocked Afghanistan, Central Asia and Western China.
While Karachi-based Premier Mercantile Services (PMS), which is part of a business venture owned and operated by the family of an important Muslim League leader, is also in the run for the lucrative project because of its existing container handling venture, Pakistan International Container Terminal, at Karachi Port.
Informed sources said that Pakistan Railways would contribute 100 acres of precious land to the proposed project for thirty five years and in return earn Rs.900 million a year, which would go up to Rs.1700 million from the date of signing the deal.
Pakistan Railways, sources said would also provide same facilities to the two investors at other lucrative locations on its national rail network. In addition PR would designate six freight train services on daily basis for northbound container transportation initially from Karachi to Lahore, while two private investors would invest on building container handling equipment.


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