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LAHORE: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said four more cases pertaining to railways will be sent to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for probe.

“Eight cases regarding railways are already being probed by the NAB and we will forward another four cases to the Bureau, including the utilisation of railway land by Shalimar Hospital after expiry of the lease and procurement of 58 locomotives through a single bid,” said the minister at a news conference at the railway headquarters here on Saturday.

However, the minister was quick to add that no letter has been written to the NAB to initiate any proceedings against his predecessor Khwaja Saad Rafique.

Asks contract employees to quit voluntarily

Claiming that he had become more mature during the last 12 years, Sheikh Rashid asked all the retired employees hired on contract basis in the railways against hefty salaries to “go home with honour by next Saturday”.

“The officers who are on long leaves with full pay will also have to justify (their absence from the department). We will also revamp the marketing wing of the department as the present officers lack ability to deliver,” he said.

The minister said trackers would be installed in all the 152 locomotives. In the first phase, he said, trackers would be installed in 38 locomotives.

“We will be able to monitor exact location of any locomotive and the quantity of the load it is carrying. I am ready to spend from my own pocket for the purpose if the need arises”, he said.

The minister said that many overseas Pakistanis had expressed willingness to work for railways free of cost.

“A group of 60 young expats, who are the PTI supporters, have voluntarily started working at the information technology wing of the PR at Karachi. We will build up a website so that the youth can generate new ideas for railways uplift. We have invited the private sector to upgrade five railway station sites for free,” said the minister.

Reiterating that his focus would be on increasing the volume of freight, Sheikh Rashid said contracts with some companies had been signed for the purpose.

Rashid said he didn’t see any hurdle in implementation of any railway project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“I have been told that under CPEC Main Line I project, tracks would be upgraded, but I suggest that standard gauge track along it should be laid. It will cost billions of dollars but once completed it will solve all problems of the railways,” he said.

Terming low-paid employees ‘precious asset’ of railways, Sheikh Rashid said that during his first tenure he upgraded pay scales by one step and they would hear “good news” shortly.

“We will be presenting railways funds issue in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting on Monday and after its approval, (will put it) in the cabinet the following day. Hopefully, railways will improve a lot within a year or so,” said the minister.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018