THIS refers to the news ‘Bidder made CEO of railway freight company’ (July 17), which indicates ineptness of the high-ups of Pakistan Railways, surrendering core operation of the organisation to the private sector in the pursuit of quick money.
All such measures flopped in the past and stagnated the system, forcing the government to take a fresh start but at a great price. In the late 1980s, an express train had been privatised and the contract had to be terminated as the man was booking livestock where he failed to board passengers!
In the early 2010s, express trains were handed over to contractors which ultimately proved a damp squib because of the late or nil return of instalments to the department owing to myriad reasons. If a passenger train with fixed timings and route fails to deliver in private hands, how can a goods train chain survive unless its path is set and not infringed upon by other trains, including the express ones?
This is a risky bargain. The authorities need to do their homework and determine the causes that are preventing robust freight transportation. There is no magic wand in the hands of the private sector to turn things around if the engines and the infrastructure remain the same.
Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2021