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Pakistan: Import of coal likely to surge by 2020

Pakistan’s coal imports may surge to 20 million tons per annum by 2020 due to the planned expansion of cement manufacturers and coal-based power plants scheduled to come online in a couple of years.

The country is handling coal import as per global standards at Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT), which is the only dirty bulk cargo terminal with state-of-the-art mechanised system having capacity to handle 12 million tons/annum and will further expand to handle the increase in coal import, sources said, adding that transportation of this much coal from PIBT and other terminals to different destinations across the country through trucks is a major challenge.

The government needs to adopt a holistic approach for freight transportation not only to protect the road network but environment also, analysts said, adding one of the important initiatives all over the world to protect environment is moving freight by rail instead of trucks as it not only lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent but also save millions of gallons of fuel every year. Pakistan can save billions of dollars in oil import bill by gradually moving to railroads.

“Such an initiative would be a win-win situation for the country, which is trying to revive loss making Pakistan Railways, protect highways by limiting axle load, and is also seriously striving for lowering greenhouse emissions to save the environment,” Pakistan International Bulk Terminal Ltd (PIBT) CEO Sharique said. “It means more revenue to Pakistan Railways and less cargo on highways, protecting the road networks while emitting less greenhouse gases,” he added.

“Using railroads is the best way to transport goods with a reduced carbon footprint while also generating more money for railways which globally make money from freight, not passenger traffic, which is always subsidized,” said Sharique, adding: “Our policy makers must realize that our road infrastructure doesn’t support smooth transportation of such items like coal which requires sophistication and technical expertise.”
Source: Business Recorder

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