Mr. Mohammad Azhar
Tell us about the history of MSL in Pakistan: when was it established and who owns it? Please also tell us about your strong point in the logistics business.
With industry experience of over 20 years, MSL was founded by me in 2000 as a proprietorship company and later established/registered as a private, limited company. I am the majority shareholder and owner of MSL. Our head office is based in Karachi with Pakistani branch offices in Lahore – Islamabad – Peshawar – Sialkot & Faisalabad— all major commercial cities of Pakistan.
MSL’s strong service points are Project/Break Bulk Cargo, Government & Defense Logistics, Afghanistan Transit Cargo, Humanitarian Aid /Relief Cargo & Global Freight Forwarding (complete Integrated Logistics services & solutions). MSL has its own global footprint with registered/licensed offices in UAE & Afghanistan as well.
Our slogan is Putting the Customer 1st & Always, and this has been our motto and success story.
Pakistan is developing rapidly and has a growing population. What ports are generally available for container and project cargo in your country? Can you also elaborate on which ports are used for inland transport to remote areas, including other countries such as Afghanistan?
Pakistan has three major Ports: Karachi Port, Port Qasim (in Sindh Province) and Gwadar Port (Baluchistan Province). Karachi Port is the busiest port in Pakistan, dealing with around 60% of the nation’s cargo. More than 1600 ships visit Karachi Port annually. Its berth occupancy is around 45 to 50%, reflecting sufficient capacity at the port to handle more cargo. Port Asim is the second busiest port. It’s around 28 nautical miles south-east of Karachi. It handles more than 40% of the seaborne trade, especially large vessels having 13 meter draughts (drafts) and 347 meter lengths are handled at this port. Gwadar Port has been developed under CPEC(OBOR) China Pakistan Economic Corridor by the Chinese and mostly caters to bulk vessels carrying crude oil/petroleum and edible bulk cargo.
There is road infrastructure that connects all three ports through land transportation and railways up to inland ICDSs and Peshawar and Quetta from where cargo can be trucked across the border into Afghanistan and other central Asian republics.
Once upon a time there was a shipowner called PNSC which I recall from my young days. Do they still exist today or do you no longer have a state owned shipping line? Are there any shipping lines that have special relationships with Pakistan trade would you say in the absence of PNSC?
Yes, indeed PNSC is still existing (since 1980s) and vibrantly engaged in the transportation of dry bulk and liquid cargoes globally. It functions under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Government of Pakistan. The fleet currently is active with bulk and tanker vessels. Bulk vessel tramp worldwide while tanker vessels tramp in the Far East region, carrying products like steel, fertilizers, minerals, forest products, ores, bauxite, alumina (aluminum oxide), cement, and construction materials.
There are indeed carriers who have been around for quite some time catering to Pakistani Trade of containerized business globally such as Maersk, Safmarine, CMA – CGM, APL, Hapag Lloyd, MSC, Evergreen Lines, COSCO, Wanhai, OOCL, PIL, Samuedra, HMM, and ONE Network.
Tell us about the competition in Pakistan? I take it that it is severe and that there are many competitors out there. How do you as MSL stand out and secure business these days?
Indeed, competition is important and very vital to bring out the best service value so the customer can benefit. The Pakistani landscape is no exception. There is indeed severe competition with the presence of global MNCs and integrators such as DHL, DSV-Panalpina, CEVA, Deugro, K&N, Schenker, DAMCO/Maersk, and KWE to name a few, as well as indigenous companies and groups.
As time has gone on, MSL has developed a loyal base of customers through sustained service levels, KPIs, and customer SOP/compliances. Also, MSL always believes that there has to be diversification. Over the years, we have not relied solely upon any one segment or source of business but have kept our balance backed with proven services, expertise, and resources to meet customer requirements. As a result, we have been able to retain our presence and source business from the market.
How about customs clearance in your country? Is that normally a problem or is it efficient?
Pakistan Customs has come a long way from a paper environment, proceeding to an automation system called WEBOC. So, it is now more effective compared to the past. However, there is always room for improvement.
Customs authorities always facilitate customers when required. Government entities— compared to public/commercial companies/business—have their own pace. Regulations/compliance, SOPs and other requirements need to be met by the importers or exporters to avoid any delays or issues.
Typically, if all the paperwork is in order by the consignor and consignee, there are seldom any issues. I believe there is good coordination and platforms available to address and resolve issues, if any, pertaining to customs clearance.
Have you experience in handling OOG and project cargoes? Could you provide us with a few examples if so?
Project & break bulk cargo remain among our core service competencies. MSL has been fortunate to have the experience (team/professionals) and the resources (fleets/special equipment) so we are fully capable of handling project cargo. As far as our experience, we have handled several power generation, transmission line & industrial projects. Most recently, we handled a Mitiari-Lahore 660kv+/- Transmission Line Project under CPEC-OBOR (NTDC – National Transmission Distribution Company) of over 200,000 metric tons from China to Pakistan via Port Qasim.
Finally, how is it best for our readers to get in touch with you?
I can be reached through my email firstname.lastname@example.org or my cell phone (also on WhatsApp) +92300-8250921 or landline +9221-34168161. Alternatively, I would suggest senders to copy your emails to our CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) Mr. Calvin Wilsonl: email@example.com.