ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique on Monday said that both civilian and military governments were responsible for the damage caused to Pakistan Railways.
Speaking during a meeting of the Senate Committee on Railways, he said that each and every democratic and military government interfered in the affairs of the department and damaged it.
He said that Pakistan Railways owned 1,100 steam engines, provided livelihood to thousands of families, and generated revenue of billions for the national exchequer but its affairs were in a mess.
Despite the best technical staff and locomotive workshops, engines were imported from foreign countries causing heavy loss to the treasury, he added.
The minister said the prime land of Railways was given on lease to favourite officers three times and one plot of the housing society was sold for millions of rupees while widows and children of employees were helpless despite paying dues.
Rafique said that strict action was being taken against the mafia occupying thousands of acres of agricultural land and residential colonies of the department.
He said that flats would be built for the employees on the 10 kanal big bungalows presently occupied by the officers and the condition of residential colonies would also be improved.
The minister appreciated the employees for working day and night and making efforts for the restoration of Railways.
He said Senator Zafar Iqbal was given illegal contract of Business and Shalimar trains through the ECC and the Railways on its own reduced the contract from Rs550 million to Rs350m.
He disclosed that the Director Legal of Railways was not a law graduate and some 3,000 cases of the department were pending in courts.
The minister said that the department had been working on plans for electric train from Lahore to Karachi and Peshawar to Karachi at an estimated cost of Rs 300 billion.
He said electronic system would be in place after two years to connect Gadani Power Project.
The minister said the department would appoint in charges for maintaining cleanliness and providing security in trains and to resolve complaints of passengers.
The Senate Standing Committee constituted a sub-committee to get railway land vacated from land mafia in Karachi Railway Housing Society and Juma Goth.
Senators Kamal Ali Agha, Ejaz Dhamara, Mohammad Zafarullah Dhamara and Nasreen Jalil attended the meeting. Acting Secretary Railways Perveen Agha, Secretary Railway Board Aftab Akbar and other senior officials of the ministry were also present.
The committee members viewed that call for tendering contract of Business Express and Shalimar Express should be given in the newspapers.
They also suggested that the Ministry of Finance should give special tax exemption on import of equipment for Railways.
Senator Mola Bakhsh Chandio and Senator Ejaz Dhamara suggested that the Pakistan Railways should restore routes of trains, closed in the past in Sindh province.
Senator Kamal Ali Agha and Senator M. Hamza stressed that the Ministry of Railways should make efforts to get its land vacated from land mafia.
Chairman Committee Molana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said that Pakistan Railways was an asset and action would be taken against those involved in corruption and malpractices in the department.
He said the government should improve the system of payment of pension and salaries to the employees, adding employees should be given more housing and medical facilities.