According to a new transportation research report from Business Monitor International, the freight mix in Pakistan is set to perform moderately in both the short and medium term, with growth constricted somewhat by the parlous state of many integral economies at present. Domestic strife, such as the road blockade in Punjab in August 2014, has had a detrimental effect on freight output and such scenarios could flare up again into 2015, the report said.
Export cargo worth US$600 million came to a standstill in August 2014 due to a road blockade in the province of Punjab, according to exporters and shipping line sources and reported by Business Recorder. The tussle between the Pakistani government and opposition political parties – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehrik – has resulted in a virtual collapse to businesses, trade, social and exports activities in the province. This could have a significant detrimental impact on the Pakistan freight industry should further blockades take place going forward.
The volume of containerised cargo calling to harbour from upcountry has registered a minimum 40 per cent decline during the past week and is likely to rise to 50 per cent if orders are not restored immediately, according to Mushtaq Ali Shah, President Captain, All Pakistan Shipping Association, speaking at the time of the incident.
While these economic headwinds continue to circle, as well as those from the global economy, the impact on Pakistan’s freight industry will be that growth is set to be muted during 2015 across all modes. That said, this year is still set to see improvements in both the rail and air freight sectors, if not the maritime sector. The outperformer in terms of annual tonnage growth will be maritime, however, with both the port of Karachi expected to witness 4.90 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) increases in 2015. Air freight will see y-o-y growth of 3.31 per cent, while rail freight is anticipated to grow by 2.70 per cent y-o-y.