UZMA KHATEEB-NAWAZ: What prompted the establishment of the Elite Warehousing Systems Project (EWSP) in 2019?
MOHAMMAD ASIM QURESHI: EWSP is a project of MAQ Builders and Developers which was established in 2015. Since we already had expertise in developing residential and commercial projects, we thought this was the obvious next step, as an increasing number of companies, including Chinese ones, are establishing industrial units and the demand for warehousing facilities was increasing substantially as they needed high-end space to store their goods.
UKN: Where is EWSP located?
MAQ: In Keamari Town, Karachi, on the M-10 motorway. It is about a 20-minute drive from Karachi Port and is strategically located at the starting point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which connects Karachi to Gwadar, Punjab and Quetta. Spread over eight acres, EWSP comprises 27 warehouses; the roads are 60 feet wide in order to accommodate heavy vehicles. Construction and development work will be completed by June 2021. The sizes of the units range between 800 and 1,300 square yards.
UKN: What are the different types of warehouses that you offer?
MAQ: Right now, we have basic structures in place. Once the customer books a warehouse, we can customise it according to their needs. For example, if a client requires cold storage facilities, we can have them installed. Or, if a client needs a manufacturing unit within the warehouse, we have concealed underground wiring to enable them to do so.
UKN: Have the warehouses been constructed with safety features in place?
MAQ: All our warehouses are earthquake resistant and made using imported windproof sheets that can resist winds of up to 160 km/hour as well as copper wiring. They are constructed with lightweight reinforced cement concrete (RCC) and imported steel-frame structures which are covered with eco-friendly UPVC roofing sheets, guaranteeing stability and durability. In other words, our clients will not have to spend any money on repairs for several decades, which is our major selling point.
UKN: Are these warehousing units available only for purchase or rent as well?
MAQ: Both. Our units can be hired for a minimum of one year or purchased. This is a good investment as any individual can purchase a warehouse and place it on rent to yield profits. We aim to provide all assistance to our clients to ensure ROI on their investment. The EWSP has been approved by the Sindh Building Control Authority and the Lyari Development Authority, adding to its credibility as a secure investment option in Karachi. We developed the by-laws for these as well.
UKN: In case of purchases, what is the payment structure?
MAQ: We offer simple payment plans, allowing both domestic and overseas investors to own a warehouse in Karachi. However, we are only booking warehouses at this point in time and not charging clients. Once a client books the space, we will customise it according to their needs and then charge them. As we do not just provide state-of-the art warehouses – we also provide several facilities – our warehouses are cost-effective for our clients.
UKN: What differentiates your facilities from your competition?
MAQ: Most of the existing warehousing solutions in Pakistan are nothing more than go-downs that resemble sheds which do not provide any additional facilities such as security, which is paramount as certain goods are worth millions of rupees. Therefore, security is the biggest concern for many clients. That is why our warehouses are gated with round-the-clock security alarm systems in place, in addition to trained security personnel and CCTV surveillance. Other facilities include fire fighting and drainage systems and automatic backup power generators.
UKN: What other facilities do you provide?
MAQ: We offer an IT and Office Tower – a one-stop solution that provides office space to our clients who want to establish their offices near the warehouses; the Tower also includes a conference hall among other facilities. We also have a mosque and dispensary on our premises. In essence, we provide a complete turn-key solution including maintenance and management. These kinds of facilities are not provided by any other warehouse in Pakistan, so we can safely claim that our warehousing facilities are the first and the only one of their kind in Pakistan.
UKN: In what way are your warehouses automated?
MAQ: The owners and tenants of our warehouses will be able to manage their units virtually through a specially designed one touch smart app. It will assign a unique ID to each owner or tenant, which will allow them virtual access to monitor their warehouse online via our in-house cameras. The process is simple. Once the consignment arrives at the port, the client informs us and we schedule transportation from the port to our warehouse. Once the container arrives, we take full responsibility for offloading and stacking their goods in the warehouse as per the client’s requirements. All these procedures can be seen by the client virtually from the comfort of their offices or homes. To ensure safety, the client will receive a ‘caution alert’ on the app whenever the door of their unit is opened by anyone.
UKN: Who are your target customers?
MAQ: Exporters, importers and manufacturers. EWSP has been registered as an industrial project; therefore, our clients can use our premises to manufacture and store their goods in our warehouses. This is especially important as finding smaller-sized plots to establish manufacturing plants is very difficult. We will also assist them in obtaining NOCs from relevant government departments, provided that their products are ‘fire-friendly’; for example, no chemicals will be allowed to be manufactured, while products such as clothes, mobile accessories and plastic goods will be.
UKN: How do you intend to market this facility to attract both clients and investors?
MAQ: We are selling the concept and the best way to do that is to arrange in-person visits. We do not need to advertise as all our units have been booked.
UKN: Do you have any plans to establish similar projects in other cities?
MAQ: This kind of automated warehousing cannot be limited to a single city. We intend to take it to other major cities located along CPEC in the near future; those will be larger with almost 1,000 warehousing units.
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