KARACHI: Pakistan Railways (PR) operations came to a standstill on Monday as protesting workers lined themselves up on the tracks to block the engines at many stations throughout the country to register their protest over the non-payment of salaries, whereas schedule of many trains got disrupted causing immense nuisance to the passengers.
The protesters blocked the engines at Railway Diesel Engine Workshop Karachi; therefore, no train could manage to obtain locomotive, severely disrupting the departures of many trains.
The employees accused the government of neglecting PR and condemned the suspension of electricity of railway colonies in different cities, adding that employees would not call off strike unless their salaries are paid. They advised government to demonstrate practical efforts and not just mere verbal statements.
Many passengers were seen agitated over the delays faced by them at the Karachi Cantonment Station. Some of them slept on the platform while others waited there while announcers advised them to suspend their journeys. The fans of bogies were also not working due to the attachments of engines which supplies electricity to the bogies.
“It is hard to bear this heat as the fans are not working that is why I bought this hand fan to give some relief to myself”, said passenger Faizan.
Schedule of several trains including Allama Iqbal Express, Tezgam Express, Awam Express and others was severely messed up as there were no locomotives available to run them. Meanwhile the arrival of several trains, coming down country, was delayed due to the protest at different stations. A total of 26 trains departed late from Lahore Railway Station.
Federal Minister for Railways Bashir Ahmed Bilour said that had the bailout package been released on time, the situation would have been much better and the deficit would also have been much less. He said that last year the deficit of Pakistan Railways was Rs18 billion while it has further increased this year.
Chairman Pakistan Railways Workers’ Union Manzoor Ahmed Razi told PPI that the administration has assured them that the salaries would be given to the employees on October 21.
“The union had asked the Divisional Superintendent Aftab Memon to take the employees in to confidence so that the misery of passengers can end but he did nothing; therefore, we are forced to continue our strike”, he added.
Manzoor demanded of the government and PR administration to release the salaries of employees and pensions of retired officials which would end the current crisis. He demanded that the Federal Railway Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour should resign as he is unable to run Pakistan Railways properly. He also asked the federal government to release bailout package and prevent the organization from defaulting.
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