Transporters halt imported wheat supply

KARACHI: Despatch of imported wheat from Karachi Port to up country has remained suspended for the last two days after transporters refused to comply with axle load restrictions.

Importers told Dawn that currently 240,000 tonnes of wheat is being held at Karachi Port and Port Qasim while another 400,000 tonnes are expected to arrive on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Central Chairman Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) Badar-ud-din-Kakar has informed Federal Minister for Communication and Transport Murad Saeed that transporters have refused to load wheat due to the restriction.

According to importers, the government has set net weight of trucks at 45 tonnes. Urging the transport minister to relax axle load restrictions, Kakar said, “This is an alarming situation as a halt in supply of imported wheat could create flour shortage in the markets.”

240,000 tonnes of commodity stuck at ports

The country is importing wheat to stabilise price of the commodity.

PFMA Chairman Sindh Zone Haji Mohammad Yousuf Chaudhry said the government had asked the transporters to reduce load of wheat by 40-50 per cent. However, transporters are not ready to comply with the orders.

The PFMA chief said the Sindh Cabinet had fixed issue price of wheat at Rs3,687.50 per 100 kg bag on Tuesday to bring down ex-mill rate of flour. The Sindh government had procured 1.262 million tonnes of wheat from the growers this year.

He said the Sindh Cabinet’s decision of fixing issue price had brought down the rate of imported wheat to Rs5,100 per 100 kg bag from Rs5,500 while local wheat price fell to Rs5,300-5,400 per 100 kg bag from Rs5,700-5,800.

Yousuf said the Sindh Food Department had called upon a meeting on October 15 for fixing ex-mill and retail prices of flour.

Chairman Cereal Association of Pakistan Muzzamil Chappal said around 55-80 tonnes (net weight) was being despatched previously but the government had finally cut the net weight on trawlers to 45 tonnes.

“This is a serious situation for importers as it would increase the cost of up country transportation. There are limited numbers of trucks available in the country while the quantity of imported wheat is high and requires smooth transportation,” he said. Chappal said around 10,000-15,000 tonnes per day of wheat is being transported to the up country.

He added that seven ships carrying 400,000 tonnes of Ukrainian wheat had arrived in Karachi and more ships are expected to berth soon.

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