The federal government has given a green signal to the ministry of maritime affairs to start ferry services from all possible international routes.
The ferry service is aimed at providing low-cost transportation services to Pakistani passengers for different countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE, and various gulf countries.
Ali Zaidi Federal Minister of Maritime Affairs in his tweet said,
Historic day for Pakistan. In pursuance of PM Imran Khan vision of blue economy. Federal Cabinet allowed Maritime Ministry initiative to start ferry/passenger ships to all possible destination across the world. Maritime frontiers are now open for sea travel.
Contrary to the decision, ferry services are not likely to commence soon but may take a couple of years as there are no licensed ships available.
The plan of commencing ferry services in Pakistan is not new. It was conceived many years ago as the last government of PML-N had kickstarted the plan formally in 2016. In this regard, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) was the sole operator which awarded the license to operate the ferry service.
In the last few years, PNSC sought approvals from concerned ministries including the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Interior Affairs. However, a few issues are yet to be resolved with respect to permissions on various routes.
The acquisition of ships to begin the ferry service requires a huge investment which is difficult for PNSC which already acquired a couple of ships recently for importing crude oil. With the government financing support to the operator, the service may be kicked start at the earliest. Other private operators will also be awarded a license to start the service soon.
As per the plan, the service will be commenced on local routes of Karachi to Gwadar in the first phase and extended to international routes.