Supreme Court again asks govt to overhaul railways

Updated 10 Jul 2020

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“There seems to be nothing in sight by which the operation of the railways in Pakistan could be improved," says top court. — Dawn/File
“There seems to be nothing in sight by which the operation of the railways in Pakistan could be improved," says top court. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: Frequent deadly train accidents led the Supreme Court on Thursday to question the state of affairs at the Pakistan Railways as it regretted that the department was not being run in a professional manner.

“PR is not being operated in accordance with the Rules and Manuals of the railways as a result of which accidents are taking place frequently in which precious lives are being lost and great damage to the railways is caused,” deplored a two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, which had taken up a suo motu case relating to the colossal losses incurred by the PR.

Earlier also on June 12, the Supreme Court had highlighted the need for revamping of the PR and had deplored that the department could not function properly with a big surplus of employees who were not only incompetent but also insincere to their institution.

“There seems to be nothing in sight by which the operation of the railways in Pakistan could be improved as not only is the infrastructure of the railways altogether bad and non-workable but also its employees are apparently not fit to operate the Railways,” observed the Supreme Court.

The court advised the government to ponder over the operations of the PR and initiate an overhaul of the department from top to bottom to ensure that the railways operated safely.

“We expect that such measures will be taken by the government immediately to ensure that the railways do not play with the lives of the people and its properties are not lost,” the chief justice observed. He directed the government to furnish a comprehensive report to the court through the Planning Commission within one month.

Referring to the Main Railway Line-One (ML-1) project, the Supreme Court expressed the hope that the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) would consider the project and approve its PC-I within one month.

The directives were issued after a report was submitted by Railways Secretary Habib-ur-Rehman Gillani in which a reference was made to the up-gradation of railways through ML-I under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The report stated that PC-I of the ML-I project was pending with the Ecnec for approval and as soon as the approval was received, work would be initiated on it.

Earlier on Feb 12, federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar had assured the Supreme Court that efforts would be made to get the approval of Ecnec by April.

A part of the CPEC, ML-1 project aims at rehabilitating and improving the existing 1,860km main rail track connecting Karachi to Lahore and Peshawar.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020