LAHORE: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid has warned a leading US firm of forfeiture of its performance bond if it doesn’t rectify the fault developed in the newly-purchased 20 locomotives by May 30.
He said he would also write to the US embassy and the company soon in this regard.
“We have served a notice on the US company, requesting it to fix the fault developed in 20 new locomotives and make them according to our standard. And if they (the company) didn’t do so till May 30, we will forfeit their performance bond,” the minister said in a press conference here at the Pakistan Railways’ headquarters on Saturday.
“We are also going to write to the US embassy and the company as well that the PR was not given quality locomotives. These engines are much expensive in the world.”
Rashid said there would be no compromise on standard, quality and safety. So they (the company) should come and remove the fault developed in the engines that were purchased by the previous government. “These locomotives are not working well. But we kept respecting your company. So you must come and fix the issue by May 30,” he added.
Predicts changes in cabinet after Eid
On the other hand, official sources in the PR term the minister’s behaviour/reaction unprofessional, unethical and ‘political’ while dealing with the technical issues [he doesn’t know at all].
“Actually, the PR during the tenure of the former rail minister had placed an order to purchase 75 locomotives from the US company. The firm manufactured and supplied 55 freight specific locomotives (worth over Rs350 million each of 4,000 horse power) over a year before,” an official, preferring anonymity told Dawn.
“The remaining 20 (worth each Rs220m or so of 2,000HP) passenger specific engines were received to the PR last month. And at present they are passing through commissioning phase,” he added.
The official said since the locomotives were under warranty period and the company, which is the one of the major manufacturers of the locomotives across the world, neither refused nor used any delaying tactic to rectifying the fault, why is he (the minister) raising this issue unnecessarily.
“Mr Rashid is just politicising this issue by showing that the outgoing government didn’t purchase good locomotives. So he must avoid doing so since such behaviour is damaging for the country,” the official added.
Talking about the fault, he said the locomotives are software-controlled. And the issue is the sensitivity level in the air brakes. So if, at the time when the locomotive is attached with the coaches, there is leakage of 11 litres fuel (diesel) per second, an indication of increased sensitivity level appears on the screen. So it automatically alerts the driver. But it increases more, the locomotives brakes are applied automatically.
“So the PR wants that these locomotives’ sensitivity level be kept ‘loose’ [adjustable] so that the engine brakes couldn’t be applied automatically. Therefore, the company team can fix this problem within no time. It is also an issue of some confusion on the part of the officials in completely understanding the locomotives’ system,” he said.
Another official, who also requested anonymity, said actually the company allegedly put the software of freight-specific engines in these 20 locomotives, which were manufactured as passenger-specific. “But even though, there is no issue, as the company can change the software quickly if it finds the PR’s queries correct,” he added.
On the other hand, the minister while talking about the Karachi circular railway said the Sindh government was targeting him unnecessarily.
Speaking of the political scene, Sheikh Rashid has predicted changes in the federal cabinet after Eid.
“After Eid, there will be a trailer of changes in the federal cabinet. And it will be with replacement of some ministers,” he disclosed to media at a press conference here.
Talking about the criticism the NAB chairman faced on the issue of an alleged video, the minister termed the tirade a bid of the opposition to get rid of references.
“The Nawaz-Zardari alliance is nothing but [it is] for an NRO. Shahid Khaqan Abbas is crying foul. They all want to flee abroad,” he alleged.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2019