KARACHI: Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Sunday that he would meet Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Monday (today) to discuss the issue of clearing the tracks of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) from encroachments.
“We will cooperate with the Sindh government as much as possible in the matter. Of the total 43-kilometre route, we had already cleared 38kms. [For] the remaining five kms and the land surrounding it, I will talk with the CM on Monday,” he told a press conference at his camp office after chairing a high-level meeting.
“We have a February 12 deadline given to us by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for which I am also going to meet the chief minister. I have never been to the Sindh CM House before. This will be my first time there,” he smiled while puffing on his cigar.
Says Pakistan Railways will launch freight trains to Afghanistan soon
Briefing the media about Pakistan Railways’ (PR) plan to give its land to the Sindh government for the KCR, he said: “The KCR is a project of Sindh after all. We will cooperate with the Sindh government as much as possible in the matter.”
Freight trains to Afghanistan
The minister also said that the PR would be starting freight trains to Afghanistan for the purpose of trade between the two countries sometime between February 15 and 20.
“By transporting Afghan trading goods on a freight train running from Azakhel and Chaman, we will also be countering smuggling this way. Booking the train for transportation of goods will be done through the internet,” he said.
Thirdly, Sheikh Rashid said that the PR was looking into taking back its property such as Hayat Regency and their plots near the Pakistan Stock Exchange, Juma Goth, etc.
“We had leased them out to private entities. But these were not 100-year lease. Usually, the railways lease is for five years so there will also be some renewing of lease agreements in places such as a private health gym that is also doing
business on a railways land. We want to see how we can use our plots to help increase railway earnings now,” he said.
PR wants to divert all freight operations to Karachi
And fourth, he said that knowing that the PR business hub was Karachi, they wanted to divert all freight operations to this city.
“Karachi is the jugular vein of Pakistan Railways. For this, we will be shifting several responsible officers of the Pakistan Railways from Lahore to Karachi,” he said.
He also said that the PR would be upgrading its Hyderabad workshop yard. “Our wagons would be sent to Mughalpura for repair work earlier. After upgrade of the workshop they can all be repaired at Hyderabad,” he said.
Another announcement involved the progress on connectivity of the Thar coal project and the establishment of a container terminal at Reti Line for which he said that they had invited tenders.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2020