ISLAMABAD: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday said steps would be taken to open Sibi-Harnai railway route in the next three months.
Responding to the calling attention notice of Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar here in the Senate, the minister said the Sibi-Harnai railway route was closed after militants blew up 10 bridges in 2006.
He said he requested the Balochistan chief minister that security should be provided for the railway route as without security the route could not be opened.
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“One month’s renovation work is left on the 137 kilometres route,” he added.
He told the Senate that his ministry reduced fare of trains; however, the trains in Balochistan were running in losses while on the other hand, trains in other parts of the country had occupancy rate of 100 percent.
The minister said the number of freight trains would be increased from 10 to 20, adding that two freight trains were given to private sector. “In 100 days, 20 trains were run on different routes,” he added.
Senator Usman said Sibi-Harnai route was started in 1882, adding that Harnai was part of the Sibi division and at present it was not connected with road and railway and the people had to travel additional distance of more than 300 kilometres to reach Quetta.
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“Harnai has the biggest coal deposits of 100 million tonnes,” he said. “In the past, two trains plied from Harnai to Sibi which carried coal in 1,000 wagons in a year.
“Harnai is also supplying sugarcane and vegetable to other parts of the country. Now the trucks are charging Rs80,000 to Rs100,000 for carrying goods, increasing the business cost.”
In the Balochistan Assembly, he said a resolution was passed to repair the railway station and a tender for the project was given in 2016, but opening of the route was delayed.
Taxes were imposed in the Harnai area and the Balochistan government was spending billions of rupees on the security of the area, but the route was still closed, he said.
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