Pakistan Railways (PR) General Manager for Operations Ashfaq Khattak has stressed that investing in railways is a far more lucrative option than sea routes and the business community should pour money into the organisation.
Addressing members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) sub-committee on communications and transport on Friday, he explained his point, saying that it costs $3,100 for a 40-feet container to cover 6,400 km by train from Karachi to Istanbul in 10 days, compared with $2,900 to cover 8,000 km in 35 days by sea and $5,200 to cover 6,400 km in 12 days by road for the same cargo and journey.
Khattak invited the business community to invest in PR under the ‘Open Access Policy’ through which private train operators would be allowed to operate their trains on PR’s infrastructure by paying a track access charge.
Giving an example, he said that for every $100 invested in three trains, $21 would be returned to the businessmen in terms of annual revenue. This way within five years businessmen can break even on their initial investment and “enjoy the remaining years of contract or project life”.
He revealed that only Rs1 billion has been granted so far from the Rs11 billion bailout package the government had announced for PR in 2010.
KCCI Vice President Junaid Esmail Makda, in his address, said that KCCI and Pakistan Railways will sign an understanding to work jointly in coming months. KCCI Senior Vice President Talat Mahmood welcomed the idea of attracting private sector to invest in PR and termed it a great opportunity.
Communication and Transport Sub-committee Chairman Liaquat Ali Shaikh urged the government to eradicate corruption in PR, and then privatise it, as losses borne by the government caused extra burden on the public.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2011.