GUJRAT: The business community of Gujranwala has expressed its willingness to operate a cargo train on a commercial basis between Gujranwala and Karachi.
It has offered to pay the freight/rent with profit in advance for one year as the Pakistan Railways is already outsourcing the commercial management of loss-making trains.
The Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has also sought to sign an agreement on a lease basis to develop the cargo terminal of the city’s main railway station as a dry port for the transportation of containers carrying goods for export and import purposes.
The in and out of at least 500 containers between Gujranwala and Karachi daily has been a routine for long for which mainly the road link is being currently used. Moreover, Gujranwala which has 21,000 units and cottage industry and is the second largest business hub in the country after Karachi for having the most diversified industrial sectors, has not got connected with the motorway.
Apart from seeking approval of operating a cargo train on a commercial basis, the GCCI has also offered the Punjab government to invest Rs3 billion on the construction of a 16-kilometre long link road to connect with the Sialkot-Lahore motorway (M-11).
GCCI president Umar Ashraf Mughal told Dawn that the chamber’s proposal had already been approved by the Punjab chief minister and consultant had also been hired in this regard but the government had to provide Rs900 million for the acquisition of land for the motorway.
He said the chamber would register a company to make an investment in the project and the invested money would be recovered from the toll tax in eight to 10 years.
Mr Mughal said the chamber delegation had held a meeting with Federal Minister for Railways Azam Swati and discussed the matter of launching a cargo train between Gujranwala and Karachi and the deputy superintendent railways, Lahore had also held a follow-up meeting in Gujranwala after which a joint inspection was made at the cargo terminal of the Gujranwala railway station. It was found in the inspection that the station was much capacious and feasible for the commercial cargo train which can increase the business, said the GCCI head.
He claimed that Gujranwala’s industry had been earning at least 2.5 billion US dollars through exports as well as saving more than 3 billion dollars in the shape of import substitution and contributing at least Rs40 billion in shape of taxes annually.
It is learnt that initially the proposal was made to launch the cargo train from the Wazirabad railway station for being located in the centre of golden triangle districts of Gujranwala, Gujrat and Sialkot but the cargo terminal was said to be insufficient compared to the capacity of the Gujranwala station’s terminal.
Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2021