KARACHI: The iconic Karachi Port Trust (KPT) building has completed 100 years of dotting Karachi’s skyline.
The centenary celebrations were marked by the port authority at an event held at the landmark near Native Jetty Bridge on Tuesday evening. The grandeur and the brilliant architecture and design behind the KPT building are truly appreciable, said KPT planning and development division executive engineer Noor Ayen Hassan during his speech.
She told the audience that the building was designed by George Whittet, who was a consultant architect for the Government of Bombay. He designed some of Bombay’s best known landmarks, including the Prince of Wales Museum and the Gateway of India.
The construction work on this building began in the year, 1912, and it took four years to complete the structure. Lord Willingdon, the Governor of Bombay at the time, inaugurated the KPT head office on January 5, 1916.
The material used for the façade is Jaipur stone with a unique yellow coloration, she shared. Purposefully located and designed to be environment friendly, the curvature of the building will find no match, with a large dome placed at the centre curve on top of the building. The building seems to consist of three to four floors but a two-floor gap has been kept purposefully to give the building a colossal feel. Having high ceilings, the rooms are spacious and well-ventilated. The floor is of cemented tiles, black and white in colour, making it not only aesthetically appealing but also low maintenance and durable.
Hassan further said that KPT head office building is well maintained, preserved, expanded and efficiently utilised as the principal administration building of the port and it is a distinctive landmark of Karachi. It’s a symbol of our history, still in its original shape, she said.
Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Kamran Michael also graced the occasion as chief guest. The year, 2016, will be a very successful year for Pakistan in terms of economic growth as increasing exports through the sea ports will strengthen the economy, he said, during his speech.
“It is a matter of immense pleasure for me and indeed it’s a historical moment for KPT to be a part of centenary celebration of the grand building of KPT,” he said.
He laid stress on national heritage assets of the nation and said that these belong to our coming generations. He wished the new year of 2016 to be a very successful year for Pakistan in terms of economic growth. He stressed on increasing exports of the country through sea ports for economic strengthening. Micheal also announced a one-month bonus salary for the staff of KPT on the request of KPT Combine Bargaining Agent (CBA) general secretary Arshad Anwer.
KPT chairperson Vice Admiral (retd) Shafqat Jawed appreciated the efforts being put by the labour and the engineering staff of KPT to preserve the old building. He said that the building had a significant importance as a month later after its inauguration, in World War I, the entire building was taken over by the government and used as a military hospital, Indian General Hospital, with 500 beds. The military vacated the premises on May 6, 1919. He also said that the total cost of the building was Rs974,990 and the expenditure was made public.
Later on, Senator Micheal inaugurated the archives gallery of KPT along with the KPT chairperson, where models of crafts, cranes and equipment of KPT flotilla are displayed along with old maps and historical data pertaining to the Karachi Port. While talking to the media, Micheal said that KPT will operate a ferry service between Karachi and Bandar Abbas in Iran and Gwadar and Pasni shortly. He informed that the service will be a safe and secure alternative road for pilgrims to Iran. He also emphasised that Pakistan will defend its waters at any cost and mentioned that Iran and Saudi Arabia are both important countries to Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2016.