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KARACHI, March 24: Several railway workers protesting against corruption and mismanagement in the railway on Thursday demanded that this premier organisation be managed properly so that it could regain its past glory and serve the masses.

Holding placards inscribed with their demands, the demonstrators chanted slogans seeking a drastic cut in administrative expenses, retrieval of railway lands from encroachers and a package to bail the railway out of financial crisis.

Speaking at the protest demonstration organised by the Railway Workers Union at the City Station, union leaders alleged that the national asset was being destroyed under a conspiracy so that it could be declared a failed organisation and sold for peanuts.

They demanded that the administrative expenses be brought down from the current 16 per cent to eight per cent and that encroached railway lands be recovered. They also demanded that million of rupees being spent through local purchase should be stopped and unnecessary departments be abolished and number of officers be lowered to steer the railway out of the financial crisis.

RWU chief Manzoor Razi and secretary Naseem Rao demanded that all past loans of the railway be written off and Rs20 billion be provided to the railway so that the required equipment could be repaired or purchased and the organisation be brought back on tracks and to a sound financial position.

They said various services had already been handed over to private parties and now planning was being done to hand over the two profitable trains – Tezgam and Korakoram Express – on a contract basis. They added that plans were also being made to privatise railway schools and hospitals.

The protesters said that while many hospitals and dispensaries of the railway remained closed, doctors were being recruited. Similarly, they added, fuel for train engines was not available though official vehicles with railway officers had never stopped due to lack of fuel. They said that millions were spent on the bungalows of railway officers, the quarters of lower grade railway employees had not been repaired over the past 10 years. Junaid Awan, Iqbal Tanoli, Khursheed Begum, Sarwar Mughal and others also spoke.