KARACHI: In continuation of his Sunday’s early morning press conference, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday called another presser at his camp office on Adam Road and this time he focused on the Karachi-Peshawar main line (or ML-1) project.
He informed the media that a $6.8 billion tender for the ML-1 project would be floated soon, and said that “the project will revolutionise the railway service in Pakistan”.
“Pakistan will get massive economic benefits in the form of 150,000 jobs and a significant surge in the freight business after completion of the ML-1 project,” he said.
Sheikh Rashid says private firms to be involved in running trains since PR cannot manage smooth operations
He added that 90 per cent of those jobs would be given to Pakistanis while the remaining 10pc would be taken up by Chinese nationals.
KCR coaches being prepared in Islamabad
He also said that the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project was going to move forward quickly now.
“Under the directives of the Supreme Court, we will put the KCR project on a fast track,” he said, adding that preparation of KCR coaches was under way in Islamabad.
“Rs1.8 billion out of the earmarked Rs10.5 billion for KCR has already been released and around nine kilometres, out of 14 kilometres of the track in the planned first phase of KCR revival, has been totally cleared,” he said.
He called Karachi the hub of railways’ activity, especially when it comes to freight business. “That’s why I am in Karachi today and that’s why I will keep visiting to the every 15 days,” he said.
Sheikh Rashid also said that they didn’t run trains for four and half months due to the coronavirus pandemic and it had caused big losses to the PR though he had plans to make things fine again through a public-private partnership.
Private firms to run PR trains
“We will give trains to private companies to run them because, from what I have seen, the railways cannot manage the smooth running of trains. So, the private companies can run the trains and we will provide them the infrastructure required for the operation,” he said.
Prior to his press conference, the minister also attended a meeting in which he directed the complete clearance of railways land and tracks of encroachments. He also warned of stern action against any PR officer or official found to be involved in any kind corruption.
Customary to his habit, Sheikh Rashif couldn’t refrain from discussing politics on the occasion.
He said that all the corrupt politicians who robbed the country [of its wealth] would see the end of their political career soon.
He also said that the opposition could only make noise, and nothing else. He predicted that all people and parties against the government of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan would hit the accelerator around February next year as their agenda was to get majority seats in the Senate elections in March 2021. But in reality, he added, their misdeeds would only pave the way for them to go to jail.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020