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Fish harbour lacks fire fighting system

The country's largest but shabby fish harbour offers nothing helping but a permanent risk of vanishing to the fleet of billions of rupees fishing vessels for it lacks a fire fighting system to respond to emergencies. The recent fire incident that consumed a big wooden cargo boat in no time has inflicted Rs 7 billion loss to its owner and triggered vast fears of insecurity among others.

Boat owners believe the incident is part of continuing terrorism in the city and may have been resulted from denial of extortion demand to the outlaws. The harbour is exposed to the miscreants' activities to cause a big financial loss to the boat owners, they said. "The incident is still a mystery as the big wooden boat burnt to ashes in no time in huge unquenchable flames, leaving the harbour in panic and fear of more violence," said President Sindh Trawlers Owners and Fishermen Association (Stofa), Habibullah Khan Niazi on Wednesday.

Officials of Karachi Fish Harbour Authority (KFHA) said a plan to set up a fire fighting system is ready with the government approval but unavailability of funds is hindering its implementation. "The fire fighting system has been approved in the ADP but the Sindh government has not so far released funds to the KFHA to establish the much-needed facility," they said, adding that there is however a big urgency to protect the harbour and boats in fire incidents.

After the 'inferno' damaged three other boats and turned a big one into ashes, the fishermen were worries over the lack of fire fighting system at the harbour where hundreds of boats moor at a time. The harbour called KPT and Dockyard for assistance to extinguish the fire which blazed for several hours. The fire fighters had to struggle to put out the blaze.

"The country's largest fish harbour is still underdeveloped and has not established an important fire fighting facility," Niazi said, adding that the harbour which serves as an export-oriented sector to earn over $300 million annually for the exchequer should be upgraded to world standards.

"The KFHA is working within its financial and technical capacity to develop the fish harbour as the authority has undertaken numerous projects in last few years besides helping the fishermen directly," the official said. They said the authority from 2007-12 undertook a "Rehabilitation & Renovation of Karachi Fish Harbour" scheme at a cost of Rs 555.951 million, in addition to modifying 539 large, small and Hora fishing boats.

"The KFHA has provided plastic fish crates, plastic baskets, insulated plastic containers, stainless steel hydraulic hand pallet trucks, on-board flake ice plants, forklift trucks, plastic pallets and key instrument to fishermen so far," they said. Niazi said the fire incident pointed towards a big danger to the wooden boats whether they are under construction or operational since there is no fire fighting system to deal with fire. "If the fire was on a boat in the navigational channel hundreds of moored boats would have vanished," he said, adding that the harbour stations all wooden boats on its waters or boat building yard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2014


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