Gilani irked by defective locomotive tenders

Published: February 18, 2012

Manufacturers complain that railway tender was tailor-made for US firm GE.

ISLAMABAD: 

As per usual, Pakistan Railways (PR) has come under scrutiny once again, even in its efforts to revamp itself.

On Friday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ordered to ascertain and hold accountable all the railways officials involved in preparing defective tender documents for the procurement of 150 much-needed locomotives.

The directions were passed during a meeting convened to review PR’s performance.

According to PR General Manager Saeed Akhtar, the tender had already been floated in order to procure the engines – However, due to “specification problems” no company could qualify for bidding, Akhtar added while talking to The Express Tribune.

Apparently, people involved in the mechanical department were responsible but this could only be determined after an investigation, the general manager said. In the meanwhile, a new tender is to be issued in two weeks.

There have been other problems with the tender, on the other hand, indicating favouritism. The representatives of various local locomotive manufacturing companies have complained that the tender was tailor-made to give an advantage to the US firm General Electric (GE). Last year, a US senator had written a letter to Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, lobbying for the tender to be awarded to GE.

Generating profit

In a bid to generate profits, the prime minister also directed that 50 per cent of the locomotives that are repaired be used specifically as freight trains, considered critical for PR revenue.

The prime minister was informed that an agreement between Pakistan Railways and the army-run National Logistic Cell (NLC) has been signed, according to which 30 locomotives are to be repaired by the NLC. Half of these will be used by the railways, while the remaining half will be used for transportation by NLC freights exclusively.

In addition, the premier directed the petroleum ministry to double the credit limit of fuel supply to the railways to ensure the smooth operation of passenger and freight trains.

Pakistan Railways was also asked to operationalise a train between Kasur, Raiwind, Lahore and Shahdara to expand affordable travel facilities for Lahore and those living around the provincial capital.

Restructuring Railways board

The meeting was apprised by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr Nadeemul Haq that the restructuring of the Railways Board, based on a corporatisation concept with the help of the World Bank, had been completed, and would be submitted to the government soon. Meanwhile, the Railways Secretary said that the Premnagar (Raiwind) dry port had been equipped with ‘state of the art facilities’ and had started its operations, which would ease up the pressure on the Lahore dry port.

New initiatives

The prime minister was briefed about a number of new initiatives, including four trains and a ‘Parcel Express’ to be operated on the basis of a public-private partnership, in addition to outsourcing ticketing on some routes.

Shalimar Express, similar to the newly launched Business Express Train, is to be launched on February 25. The premier is expected to receive the train at Multan.

Prime Minister Gilani was also briefed on the proposed Gul Train between Pakistan and Istanbul, which will pass through Pakistan, Iran and Turkey.

At the meeting, the premier directed the finance ministry to hold a meeting with the PR ministry to coordinate the payment of pension commutations, GP fund dues and other employee related expenses without delay.

The briefing was attended by Minister for Railways Haji Ghulam Bilour and senior officials of different ministries and the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012.

Reader Comments (7)

  • Chilli
    Feb 18, 2012 - 11:36AM

    Government is too slow on all fronts, be it Railway or PIA. Only actions needed not words.

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  • Feb 18, 2012 - 12:03PM

    Gillani and its administration failed completely in all sectors, Com’on Gillani do something elections are coming

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  • Shahid
    Feb 18, 2012 - 12:29PM

    This is exactly what GE does using its twisted and manouvered specifications to override others specifications so that others are disqualified. Clients such as Pakistanis, specially corrupt individuals, such as Hafeez Shaikh, Bilour etc; and their party chiefs, are always looking for such opportunities to make money. GE cannot compete in a fair game. It is always trying to twist and by pass the system. I know GE very well, inside out. Have worked with them for almost 20 years. They will do whatever it takes, repeat whatever, to sell. Pakistan Railways should do the following: Buy the top rated locos for long distance runs, second level locs for regional distance runs, and the third level locos for local shuttle runs. Very important not to use top rated locs for shuttle service runs. Must ensurebest locos are used to haul large and heavy loads of Cargo trains to make money. Same goes for PIA. Three levels of aircrafts meeting distance, traffic, load & frequency requirements. Conditions of tender must include service & maintenance of their loco engines for 10 years after handover by manufacturers. No exceptions, otherwise disqualify the bidder. Then only PR will have a consistent run and make money. Money will come when there are passengers and cargo customers and cannot have them with trains standing without loco engines.

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  • Ishrat Salim
    Feb 18, 2012 - 2:40PM

    They will act when election is near…but the people are not fool anymore.Recommend

  • Arindom
    Feb 18, 2012 - 2:44PM

    Indian Railways is in the best position to supply rugged Indian manufactured, easily repairable, cheap, low maintenance and easily transportable locomotives. American locomotives and spares would be too expensive. But then, the order will ultimately to the all weather friend to dump more sub-standard creaky locomotives – like the last order!!!

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  • Lobster
    Feb 18, 2012 - 4:30PM

    Gillani knows its just 3-4 months left.Recommend

  • G. Din
    Feb 18, 2012 - 4:58PM

    @Shahid:
    “…I know GE very well, inside out. …”
    Then probably you also know that their diesel-electric locomotives had a history of catastrophic fatigue failures about the cause of which they didn’t have a clue. The generator shaft would just break into two in the middle of a run and the whole locomotive would come to a grinding halt. I heard you had similar experience with Chinese locomotives also!

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