PR seeks Rs23b to upgrade vulnerable tracks

Swati says ministry incurred Rs1.9b loss due to unsound wagons


Waqas Ahmed June 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN:

Railways Minister Azam Swati on Monday said that an amount of Rs23 billion has been sought from Prime Minister Imran Khan for upgrading the 473km vulnerable track, stressing that the government would control the mafia “at any cost”.

“In the wake of the Ghotki train tragedy, the railways ministry is working on a war footing,” he said during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways. The meeting was presided over by Mohammad Qasim Khan.

Briefing the upper house panel, Swati blamed wrong policies for the prevailing state of his ministry, alleging that (in the past) appointments were among priorities rather than a business plan.

“We are providing pension to around 132,000 railways’ employees,” he said, adding that funds worth Rs80 million were released for upgrading wagons. Lamenting the lack of funds, he said the ministry has incurred Rs1.9 worth of loss due to 374 unsound railway wagons.

There were also some mafias in the media, the minister alleged and claimed that some railways police and officials were involved in grabbing government land. He gave the credit to the Supreme Court chief justice for his efforts to retrieve railways land.

“There are no officers in the railways to whom I can give responsibility,” he said, adding that mafia does not want the department to convert old machines to auto machines.

Read more: Poor state of affairs at railways irks SC

Elaborating on the state of his ministry, he revealed that the repair shops were not capable of repairing rail coaches. “Coaches will derail if they are repaired from repair shops,” he said.

He told the Senate panel that as many as Rs32 billion worth of funds were spent on railway signals, but their performance was zero. “I have taken this matter to NAB chairman,” he said, “the mafia in railways, which is blacklisted, is working through their front man.”

On Ghotki incident, he lauded the efforts of army for relief efforts.

The railways minister said the premier has taken notice of two and a half billion worth of electricity theft. He added the ministry was trying to stop such theft but apparently the mafia in railways and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) are in cahoots.

During the meeting, Senator Mushahid Hussain asked about the action taken on the Divisional Superintendent Sukkur’s letters on train incident.

To this, Swati said Sukkur Division’s mainline was not in good condition, however, the place where Ghotki incident took place “its track was in stable condition”.

The rail track after the tragedy was not in good condition, he said, adding that as per the premier’s directives the ministry was working on war footing. “We have sought Rs23 billion from PM Imran Khan for upgrading 473km of vulnerable rail track,” Swati said.

He added that the railway line from Tando Adam to Khanpur would be upgraded. After this, he said the freight revenue would increase rapidly.

 

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