LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways (PR), in collaboration with social welfare organisations, is financially helping the porters and other employees who have become jobless due to closure of the train operations caused by torrential rains and floods in several parts of the country.

Senior PR officers don’t see resumption of the train operations in near future keeping in view inundation of various stretches of the railway tracks in Sindh and Balochistan.

“The PR management has started giving Rs10,000 (each) to the porters. In the first phase, the financial assistance has been provided to 400 porters stationed at Karachi Cantt, Karachi city, Landhi, Drigh Road, Hyderabad and Lahore railway stations. The Rs10,000 financial assistance includes money provided by Akhuwat Foundation, Khwaja Rafique Shaheed Foundation and one-day salary of railways employees including the officers and workers,” a source told Dawn on Thursday.

He said that in the second and third phases, similar financial assistance would be provided to the remaining porters at other railway stations including Lahore Cantt, Kot Lakhpat, Raiwind, Khanewal, Multan, Sukkur / Rohri, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Jhelum, Gujrat, Sibbi, Quetta, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan.

He said there was also a plan to support those whose earnings are directly linked with the operation of trains. They include waiters and cooks working in dining cars in trains and at other places.

“The porters, waiters, cooks etc are among the people whose jobs are directly connected with the train operations which are suspended for the last many days due to floods. This has made them jobless,” the official said, while requesting the NGOs, philanthropists, donors and others to help such poor people whose small earnings are linked with railways or other sectors.

“If anyone wants to help, they can contact offices concerned at the railways’ headquarters (offices of CEO, minister etc) or the divisional superintendents of the PR Lahore, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi and Quetta divisions.

A senior PR official says resumption of the train operations may take more time keeping in view the floodwater which is still flowing along or over the railways tracks in Sindh and Balochistan. “How we can rehabilitate the tracks which are still under water? It is possible once the water recedes completely, enabling the railway teams to start rehabilitation through earth-filling, replacement of the most affected parts of rail, strengthening shoulders along the tracks etc,” he said.

He said the organization was facing huge financial loss on a daily basis. Moreover, the situation had forced the rail travellers to use road transport which costs much more than that of the railways. “Similarly, the suspension of freight train operations is also causing loss of revenue on a daily basis,” he said, adding that the PR’s main priority was to restore the trains.

The PR on Aug 21 suspended its train operations at various sections after the flash floods washed away the tracks. The train operations remained suspended during the second week of the month at Narowal-Sialkot section after Nullah Dek originating from the India-held Kashmir overflowed and washed away the railway line. However, the authorities had the operation resumed after rehabilitating the affected portion of the track within a couple of days.

The tracks affected by floods include Rohri-Tando Adam, Paddidan-Bhiria, Daur-Bandhi and Bocheri-Nawabshah sections and Nawabshah yard. Similarly, the Sibbi-Quetta and Dalbandeen-Quetta, Kotri-Dadu near Sehwan Sharif and Habib Kot-Sibi and Dera Murad Jamali and Jacobabad-Notal sections are also unfit for train operations due to floods.

Moreover, the signalling system at various spots is also dysfunctional due to inundation and power outages.

RAILWAYS POLICE: A posse of men and women displayed immaculate turnout at a passing out parade marked by precise drill movements.

The trainees of 2nd Upper, 4th Intermediate and 25th Lower School Courses in the duration of 16 weeks received classroom instructions in eight main subject areas -- railways, penal and procedural laws, police practical work, physical training, firing and weapon handling, stress management and control over anger (SMCA), character building, first aid and forensic science.

The day’s passing out ceremony commenced after the chief guest, Railways IG Rao Sardar Ali Khan, drove past the guard turnout. He congratulated the trainees on their accomplishment.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2022

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