Minister eyes Rs30bn from PR freight service

Published March 23, 2021
In this file photo, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati speaks to the media in Lahore. — PID
In this file photo, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati speaks to the media in Lahore. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Railways Minister Azam Swati on Monday assigned the Pakistan Railways (PR) an annual earning target of Rs30 billion from its freight service and asked the officials concerned to submit within three months a blueprint to achieve the target.

Addressing a news conference, Mr Swati said the target is not only achievable but the department could potentially reach Rs40bn.

The PR has suffered a loss of Rs2.9bn over the past 10 months. The minister while explaining the loss disclosed that an attempt had been made for the collapse of railways. Distribution valves from 220 new freight wagons were stolen, he said, adding that each of the equipment cost Rs300,000 and the net loss was Rs800 million. Those found responsible would be taken to task, he said.

According to Mr Swati, the PR used to earn Rs50,000 per day from each of the grounded freight wagons, and the total loss worked out to be Rs2.9bn.

The railways minister blamed the management of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for not using the freight train service of railways for transportation of petroleum products. At present, 2,000 wagons are readily available to transport oil from Attock Oil up to Mardan, he said.

Mr Swati said as a result of his intervention, the PSO chairman has issued directives for using the railways freight service for transportation of oil. This measure would enable the PR to earn a profit of Rs3bn, he said. The PR has end-to-end terminal facilities and is fully equipped to provide service to PSO, he added.

Mr Swati said that reformation of the real estate of Pakistan Railways is being introduced to protect railways land. However, he said, what is the use of this land when the country could not pay off loans obtained by Pakistan from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

He said the Ministry of Railways has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), the military engineering organisation and one of the major science and technology commands of Pakistan Army, to undertake projects of the PR.

Any project under the federal government’s Public Sector Development Pro­gramme, which can take five years to complete, could be completed in six months through FWO, he remarked. FWO may not have to take other projects as railways have enough projects. The positive element in giving projects to FWO is that there is no chance of corruption, and the prime minister himself wants there should be no corruption in any project.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2021

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