Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Muhammadi Steamship Company

The National Line.

To cater the growing need for promoting coastal trade between the two wings of the country, on which no Pak-flag ships plied, the establishment of the Muhammadi Steamship Company Limited was conceived. The company was incorporated on May 12, 1947, a quarter ahead of the country ‘s becoming a sovereign Muslim State of the Sub-continent.

In August, 1947, Mr. Muhammad Ali Habib, Mr. Rustom Cowasjee and Mr. Kasim Dada went to London to fetch ships for newly established shipping company. Muhammadi Steamship Company Ltd.

Apart from looking ships, they started looking for Muslim shipping men from India and recruited Mr. M. Abdul Hameed Esmail, Haj Manager of Scindia Steamship Co. as General Manager and Mr. A. D. Ahmed from the same company as Assistant Manager. K. R. S. Captain who had marine experience as a Master Mariner and Pilot of Bombay Port was appointed Marine Superintendent for Muhammadi Shipping.

Muhammadi purchased their first ship “Al-Ahmedi” and got it registered in Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) Karachi in 1948.
Mr. Muhammad Ali Habib along with Mr. Kasim Dada were major share holders of the company till 1959-1960. However, after their departure from the scene, company went into deep financial crisis.

Mr. Fakhruddin Valibhai who was one of the sponsoring Director intervened into the affairs of the company and became Managing Director / Chairman by buying the controlling shares of Company. He immediately took drastic steps to revive the company and started replacing old vessels with secondhand modern cargo vessels of lesser age. In 1967 he also placed an order for the first ocean going vessel to be built by Pakistan to Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works Ltd.

The new ship was named “Al-Abbas” popularly known as “Pride of Pakistan” or “Jewel of Muhammadi”. After being fully in operation she was plying between KarachiChittagong route on liner basis. Her commercial performance was excellent. Unfortunately during 1971 war, the ship was badly damaged by Indian Air Force bombardment at Chittagong and was later declared as total loss. Another order was placed with Russian Shipyard for a new vessel “Al-Abiden”.
During the chairmanship of Mr. Fakhruddin Valibhai, the company’s performance increased by leaps and bounds. Apart from running a shipping company, the owner also established a workshop by the name of Muhammadi Workshop at Keamari to cater for repair of not only Pakistani ships but also foreign flagged vessels. Apprentices were also recruited as future Marine Engineers. Famous Muhammadi House on I. I. Chundrigarh Road also belonged to Muhammadi Steamship Co. Ltd.

Muhammadi Steamship Company Limited happened to be one of the first few quoted companies, by getting enlisted on the Karachi Stock Exchange in 1949. The record of dividend disbursement by the company specially from 1964 to 1970 was noteworthy.

Other features were as follows:

Ø  Al-Sayyada of Muhammadi Steamship Company was the first ship to be dry docked at Karachi Shipyard.

Ø      Al-Abbas was the first merchant ship built in Karachi Shipyard. The President of Pakistan Field Marshal Ayub Khan, was the Chief Guest at the launching ceremony of “Al-Abbas” at Karachi Shipyard.

Ø    Muhammadi Steamship Company was the first shipping line to be listed at Karachi Stock Exchange in 1949.

Ø   However, when shipping was nationalized in 1974, Muhammadi Steamship Company, Muhammadi House and Muhammadi Workshop became part of Pakistan Shipping Corporation (PSC) and later of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation. 

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