History of Karachi Port Trust

Background

The name Karachee first appeared on a document in 1742 of a Dutch merchant ship `de Ridderkerk’ belonging to the Dutch East India Company when it was shipwrecked along its coast. After a few expeditions, the British East India Company, captured the town, two days after the Royal navy ship HMS Wellesley anchored off Manora Island on February 1, 1839. Karachi gained further importance after Sindh’s conquest by Major General Charles James Napier in 1843, and went on to become part of the British Indian Empire.

Structure of Building

The British were concerned about Russian expansion towards the Arabian Sea, so in 1839 they occupied Karachi and later the whole of the Sindh. The port served as a landing point for troops during the First Afghan War. A number of British companies opened offices and warehouses in Karachi and the population increased rapidly. By 1852, Karachi was an established city with a population of 14,000 and a prosperous overseas trade. The modern port began to take shape in 1854, when the main navigation channel was dredged and a mole or causeway was constructed to link the main harbour with the rest of the city. This was followed by construction of Manora breakwater, Keamari Groyne, the Napier Mole Bridge and the Native Jetty Bridge. The construction of the wharves started in 1882, and by 1914 the East Wharf and the Napier Mole Boat Wharf were complete while 1927 and 1944, the West Wharf, the lighterage berths and the ship-repair berths were constructed between 1927 and 1944.

                            

By 1899 Karachi was the largest wheat and cotton exporting port in South Asia. The period between 1856 and 1872 saw a marked increase in trade, especially during the American Civil War when cotton from Sindh replaced American cotton as a raw material in the British textile industry and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Karachi was an important military base during the First World War (1914–18) because it was the first British Raj port of call for ships coming through the Suez Canal and was the gateway to Afghanistan and the Russian Empire. Karachi was again a military base and port for supplies to the Russian front during the Second World War (1939–1945). In 1947, the British left the region and India and Pakistan were formed.

 
KPT PROFILE

The Karachi Port is administered by a Board of Trustees, comprising Chairperson and 10 Trustees. The Chairperson is appointed by the Federal Government and is also the Chief Executive of Karachi Port Trust. The remaining 10 Trustees are equally distributed between the public and the private sector. The five public sector trustees are nominated by the Federal Government. The seats for private sector trustees are filled by elected representatives of various private sector organizations. This way all port users find a representation in the Board of Trustees.

 

 

Karachi Port Trust Bulding

Design

Our national heritage embarks our cultural symbol in form of Karachi Port Trust’s Head Office Building. It was incorporated in the era of British government in sub-continent. The first glance of the building reminds us the renaissance of British Raj. It is a wonderful amalgamation of British, Hindu and Gothic cultures. G. Witted has designed the KPT Head Office, who was a consultant architect of the Government of Bombay. Witted was also the Architect of the Prince of Wales Museum / the Gateway of India (1908). This grandeur building is located on the opposite side of Qamar House, Eduljee Dinshaw Road, Karachi. Its structure was completed in 1915 under the supervision of the Engineering Department, KPT and the cost incurred for its completion was Rs.9,74,990/-. Lord Willingdone, the Governor of Bombay inaugurated KPT Head Office Building on 5th January, 1916. It occupied a large area about 1400 sq. meter. On the other side, KPT Head Office Building has a historical side, in the First World War (i.e. 7th February, 1916 to 6th May, 1919), the building was converted into 500 beds hospital, aimed to serve people.

The color of building and material used in the construction was very unique as the color of the building is in a yellowish color that is Sepia, stone based. The curvature of this building is matchless and makes it stand tall amongst many structures. In building’s center curve, there is a large dome placed at the top of it. Domes are the prominent feature of Roman Architectures. Design of KPT Head Office and architect seems to be inspired by Roman Architects. Although, Domes were common feature in Islamic architecture but they were canvassed in different styles. The other classic materials of the buildings are its doors, windows and arches, which are huge in size and in green color. The combination of Green & yellow color enhances its beauty. Exterior and interior of the building is very simple yet unique. Rooms are specious and have high ceiling on it. The building seems as it consists of three to four floors, but practically the two floors gap has been kept to make it colossal. The other interesting feature of the building is the teak wood works.

Teak wood is very expensive and used in this building excessively. The wood works on the window is printed in dark green color, which adds more to its adornment. KPT Head office building had only one entrance with a huge door and 2 large anchors are kept on both sides. Striking arches of the corridors crafted in both exterior and interior, which is symbolic Roman Styled Architecture. The floors are tiled with black & white color and easily washable. These tiles are called cemented tiles, purposely made of by adding different colors in the cement. As we have already mentioned earlier, the usage of teak wood is found everywhere in the building, even the elevator is also wooden. While going up in elevator, you can experience a site seeing of every floor that passes by because there is no wall is present in between.

There is only one railing back of the elevator, which is uncovered and mechanism of the elevator is visible. On its 2nd floor, there is a huge and specious Board Room that adds great significance because it is located right under in dome, where all the meetings held. There are two huge arch shaped glass windows; beautiful glass painting is done on them. Old clock kept there by the name of Elliot Brother Company, London. There is another big Conference Room adjacent to the Board Room. Now, all the meetings are held in conference room. On 2nd floor, the third most important room is Record Room, which is used for keeping the records of the original proceeding and secret files. All the proceedings from 1893 till to date are kept here. This symbol of history is still in its original shape.