THIS refers to the news item ‘Upgrade of tracks only way to avoid accidents, says Swati’ (June 10), according to which, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said an amount of Rs60 billion was needed to upgrade the railway tracks. The sum quoted by the minister is not an amount that cannot be managed by the government for preventing horrific accidents and, thereby, transforming railways into a safe, economical and comfortable means of long-haul travel for those who cannot afford to travel by air.
If the government could dish out Rs120 billion for building the new international Islamabad airport used by affluent people, there is no reason why the government cannot afford to provide half that amount so that Pakistan Railways may serve the underprivileged segment of the population across the country.
Defending his decision not to resign following the latest accident in Ghotki, the minister said that if his resignation could solve any problem, he was ready to resign, and that if his resignation could heal the wounds of those who have lost their relatives and of the injured, he would not hesitate to resign.
How is it that the same logic is not applicable in the case of the officials suspended on account of the accident? Either the logic is flawed or its application is. With the track in a dilapidated condition for long, the responsibility for its rehabilitation cannot be put on the low-ranking officials who are there to carry out day-to-day tasks.
The onus of responsibility is on the higher-ups for not doing what they were supposed — and paid — to do. Heads must roll, but not at the lower level.
Erum A. Majeed
TRAVELLING by Pakistan Railways these days is nothing but fraught with dangers, as was underlined by the recent tragic mishap in Ghotki. The early-morning collision involving two trains is a clear indication of the pathetic state of railways in the country.
It is indeed sad to note that while other countries have rapidly developed and promoted travelling by trains, Pakistan still lags far behind. Trains in Japan, China, France, Italy and other European countries travel at over 200kph, while our trains trundle like tortoises.
The much-touted ML-1 upgradation of tracks and signal system from Karachi to Peshawar with Chinese help is yet to take off with its future in doubt.
Since 2002, nearly 450 people have died and over 800 have been injured in various train-related accidents. This makes Pakistan a leading country in terms of rail disasters.
The latest accident clearly shows that the authorities have yet to learn from the past, and the official reaction suggests more of the same in the future.
THE train accident in Ghotki could have been avoided had the relevant authorities not taken the lives of the people for granted. Whenever we have a tragedy, there is a media trial of those responsible for the safety of the passengers, but that lasts only for a couple of days. Once media focus shifts to some other issue, the officials slide the matter under the carpet forever.
I live in London where trains represent the best option to commute. Hundreds of trains run every single minute, but there is never a minor delay, let alone a collision.
On the other hand, Pakistan Railways, having limited fleet of trains and tracks, remains unable to run its operations smoothly. The reason is that besides being under-resourced, Pakistan Railways direly lacks competent and honest officials who care for the people’s lives.
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2021