Railways director IT fired for ‘not coming up to expectations’

Updated Jun 04 2020

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“It happens when you lose your best employees and hire those having inadequate skills and competence to contribute.” — APP/File
“It happens when you lose your best employees and hire those having inadequate skills and competence to contribute.” — APP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways (PR) on Wednesday sacked the IT director hired about six months ago after showing the door to the entire team of IT experts employed during the tenure of the former minister for railways (a senior PML-N leader).

The director has been removed from the post for not performing well, according to the PR administration. However, sources say the move is politically motivated.

“It happens when you lose your best employees and hire those having inadequate skills and competence to contribute,” deplores a source.

According to a notification issued on Wednesday, PR IT director Razaq Khan had been hired on Dec 12 and he joined to head the IT team on Dec 14.

“Mr Razaq Khan was appointed as director (IT) in special grade (MP-II) with effect from December 14, 2019 and was required to improve the efficiency and output of the IT directorate. However the officer didn’t come up to the expectations and performed below the required level of proficiency, administration and service delivery and failed to complete a number of tasks assigned to him from the date of his joining,” reads the notification.

“In view of the position, the competent authority has been pleased to terminate the services of Mr Razaq Khan with immediate effect with one month’s basic pay in lieu of notice in accordance with clause-11 of the offer of contract appointment of even number dated December 12, 2019.”

The source claims that the service contract of the entire IT team (one director and eight software developers) hired during the previous minister’s tenure was not extended last year by the current railways administration at the time.

“The e-ticketing system that was developed by the previous team after working hard was perfect, earning revenue of Rs70m per day during the last regime. But during this government, the entire team was shown the door by not extending their contracts. And finally a new director and around seven professionals were hired about six months ago,” says the source.

He adds the new team failed to understand and keep the system on track, which was earlier facilitating around 120 trains couldn’t take load of 30 trains and crashed before Eid.

He says around 30 days ago primary database server machine crashed. Complete load of system was shifted to secondary server. Warranty of e-ticketing hardware, also accommodating around 20 other railways systems, expired in June 2019 and has not been renewed.

The expert opinion is the database of e-ticketing requires optimization for which the railways do not have experts, informs the source.

Previous experts were working day and night on improvements and a file was floated to procure SSD hard drives for database servers so it can take more load. “Due to change in the IT staff, the file was never pursued by new team,” he claims.

The source says the reservation offices and online ticketing system had a single database. “Railways is now facing issue with database. Opening reservation offices will not help railways or improve tickets sale,” he adds, recommending that the railways must upgrade its servers immediately and engage experts to optimize its database queries.

A spokesperson for the PR claims that there is no issue relating to understanding of the current team with the system developed by the previous team.

“There are some IT staffers hired by the previous govt who are still working with the current team.” She says the IT director, who was removed from the job on Wednesday, failed to deliver as he couldn’t accomplish any of the tasks assigned to him.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020