Karachi Fish Harbour

Development of Karachi Fish Harbour

I met Abdul Aziz Ashrafi by chance in a departmental store on Tariq road. I had known him since 1970. At that time, he was deputy commissioner Sukkur, and my father was deputy commissioner Jacobabad. Being colleagues from the same revenue department of government of Sindh, they would often meet each other and this relationship extended to family relationship. On one such occasion I was on leave from engineering college and was with my parents in Jacobabad, that we were invited by Abdul Aziz Ashrafi at his deputy commissioner house in Sukkur. It was here that I met him for the first time.

Director Karachi Fish Harbour Authority Pakistan

We were now meeting again in Karachi after about 15 years.  He enquired about my father and I told him that my father had retired from service and was now living with me. Mr. Ashrafi told me that he was posted as managing director in a newly created organization by the name of Karachi fish harbour authority.  Seemingly, he was not comfortable there and was looking for an engineer having sea-port experience.  And when I told him that I was working in port Qasim, he showed his interest and asked me if I could join him as project director. We exchanged visiting cards so as to keep in touch. Back home I thought about the proposal.

Chairman Fisheries Karachi

The post of a project director Fisheries Karachi was a step ahead of my existing position. I decided that the post of project director was prestigious, but I should not burn my boats and should go only if port Qasim agrees to keep my lien so that if I felt like coming back, I should have that leverage with me. Admiral Waliullah was a tough guy and didn’t agree to leave me at the first instance. But when I told him of my future prospects, he reluctantly agreed with me. With a lien in PQA, I joined as project director in Karachi fish harbour authority (KFHA) also known as Fisheries Karachi

Karachi Fishery

On the day I joined this new organization fisheries karachi, I had a mixed feeling of joy and fear, with element of fear overriding the element of joy. The make-shift office of KFHA comprised of a single room carved out in an old barrack allocated to fisheries department of government of Sindh. These barracks in Saddar area were constructed in and around 1947 to set up the secretariat of Pakistan, and by now these were in a dilapidated condition.

This room gave a semblance of a hushed-up railway platform, and the entire staff of the company including managing director and his peon all huddled together, and were almost doing nothing and whiling away the time. At first, I thought of immediately going back. But then sanity prevailed as going back unceremoniously, would have tarnished my image of remaining steadfast even in adversaries. I therefore decided to hold on and face the situation. 

Visiting Fish Market Karachi with Chairman

As if this was not enough, the visit of fish harbour had much more in store for me to be disappointed.  It was pathetic to say the least. The moment I entered the gates of fish harbour I felt suffocation in breathing. The air was polluted with stinking pungent smell of rotten fish and I had difficulty in controlling myself from vomiting. The side-lines of roads were littered with garbage and filth. All open spaces were encroached mostly by boat builders or any other activity, whether legal or illegal, who cares. The very ambience of harbour suggested that we were in no-man’s land. Here it was free for all to do anything anywhere, with either no questions asked, or with the connivance of the management which was in the hands of fishermen cooperative society.

Condition of Fish Market

The condition of jetty area and fish auction halls, was also as bad as rest of the harbour.  The fish and prawns were scattered on the floor of auction hall. And I could see that cats and dogs had free passes to roam in the auction hall, and to take a nap also when sleepy. The floor and the fish catch were washed with polluted water of harbour basin. The jetty and auction hall were in dilapidated condition and were to be rehabilitated and renovated through the project for which I was hired as project director.  The harbour basin was jam packed with fishing boats to an extent that one could walk through these boats to cross the basin from one end to the other.

Fishing Boats

These fishing boats didn’t have conservancy system in their boats and were discharging the waste of their make-shift toilets, directly into the sea. And at the end of the day when I reached home, I didn’t have to tell my family. They asked me instead: “Where had you been today?”

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