Inland Water Transportation: Can It Become a Vital Part of Pakistan's Freight Transport Policy?

By Khan, Sail Asif | Economic Review, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Inland Water Transportation: Can It Become a Vital Part of Pakistan's Freight Transport Policy?


Khan, Sail Asif, Economic Review


While Pakistan's huge oil import bill makes the news time and again due to its implications for the balance of trade and its role in distorting our energy mix, the colossal impact that the transport sector has on our oil imports is often overlooked.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, transport ranks second in utilisation of energy consumption at 30%, preceded only by industry at 40% and followed by domestic consumption of energy at 21%. On the other hand, given that up to 96% of all inland freight in Pakistan is carried by diesel guzzling trucks plying our roads, while hardly 4% is carried by rail, it would only be fair to conclude that the system of inland freight transportation in the country is largely dependent on petroleum products, which are both expensive and environmentally damaging.

The Benefits of Introducing Inland Water Transport in Pakistan

This is in sharp contrast to the undeniable reality that Pakistan has in existence a vast network of over 30,000 km of rivers and perennial canals, which can be utilised quite efficiently to transport freight in a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly manner, after implementing some minor adjustments. This would be what is known in logistics parlance as an "Inland Water Transport" (IWT) system.

IWT is a method of using small to medium sized barges on water bodies (such as rivers, canals and lakes) that lie within a country's frontiers for the purpose of transporting materials and human freight. In order to implement IWT successfully, a body of water must be "navigable" i.e. it must be deep, wide, and slow enough for a vessel to pass. While depth is a relative concept when talking about water transport, normally a channel depth of 1.2-1.5 metres is considered to be suitable to allow navigability for medium-sized craft. IWT systems have been used for centuries in various parts of the world including countries such as India, China, Germany and Russia. Estimates of the extent of resultant cost saving vary but experts suggest that the establishment of IWT in Pakistan may reduce fuel costs by about 8 to 10 times compared to road transport, and will cost 3 to 4 times less than rail transport.

Furthermore, the existing system based on lorries in the country is already overburdened. Pakistan's annual cargo tonnage (the total mass of actual cargo transported) at its existing three ports is roughly 45 million metric tons. At the same time, there is at least 200 billion ton km movement of cargo within the country, which is expected to reach 1,400 billion ton km of cargo within the next seven to eight years (ton km is a unit of freight measurement meaning the movement of 1 ton of cargo by a distance of 1 km). According to the World Bank's findings, the average load factor in Pakistan is about 100%, with only about 10% of empty running balanced by the estimated 10% average overloading. In other countries, it is common to find average load factors of about 60-70%, with figures as low as 50% being the norm for specialized trucks, such as oil tankers. If no corrective measures are taken, there would be a costly increase in our imported fuel bill, the number of trucks, and road network expansion and maintenance costs, within the next decade or so.

According to the findings of the Planning Commission's taskforce on Maritime Industry, one liter of fuel carries a ton of cargo 20 km by truck, and 70 km by rail, but 180 km on water. Moreover, to carry 1,500 tons over 200 km, 60 trucks would use 15,000 liters of fuel, while three trains would use 4,200 liters of fuel, but one waterborne barge would use only 1,600 liters of fuel. Another study finds that freight transportation costs per ton km handled by water transportation services would be about 1/10th of highway costs, and 1/4th of the lowest possible rail rates. With oil import bill touching $15 billion a year, fuel savings are critical, and can help earn carbon credits, which themselves translate into cash. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Inland Water Transportation: Can It Become a Vital Part of Pakistan's Freight Transport Policy?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.