PR deficit to be brought to nil by year-end: Sh Rashid

PR deficit to be brought to nil by year-end: Sh Rashid
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LAHORE: Pakistan Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has vowed to bring the Railways deficit to nil

by the end of the current fiscal year.

Addressing a press conference at Pakistan Railways (PR) headquarters here on Saturday, he said that it was unfortunate that the railways had become one of the most ruined departments of the country, adding that he had directed the department to cooperate with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) so that corruption could be eradicated and the corrupt people could be punished.

He said that it had been decided in the meeting with the high officials of railways that 15 per cent of the expenditures would also be reduced.

He said that it had also been decided to replace the broad gauge track with to the international standard gauge. He said the broad gauge track was a major source of corruption in railways.

The minister said that the administration had been ordered to ensure 20 per cent increase in freight and submit a report to him through WhatsApp on daily basis.

He also announced suspending three railways officers of the freight department and said that his main focus would be on freight and marketing strategy.

He introduced new slogan of "Araam Haraam Hai" for the railways and said that zero tolerance would be shown for negligence and corruption.

Sheikh Rashid said that WiFi and tracking system would be installed and operatives from September 25 in all trains so that one can locate the train from his mobile phones.

He said that online ticketing system would be improved and travel agents would be invited to link with the system.

He said that tracking system would also be installed in the freight trains so that the traders could track their freight.

He offered TCS and other mail operators to come forward and use the railways track.

The minister announced two new trains from September 15 including Rawalpindi-Kundian-Mianwali, Mianwali-Kundian-Rawalpindi and Lahore-Rawalpindi, Rawalpindi-Lahore.

He said that 606 railway coaches had been awaiting repair and invited private sector to come forward and repair these coaches. However, he said that carriage factory and Risalpur factory of railways would also be involved in the repair of these coaches.

He assured the nation that he wanted every task performed in the country and added that his target was to increase income and reduce deficit of railways.

He said that commercial buildings would be constructed on the Railway land in big cities to increase income of the department.

He also announced forming a task force to clean the railway track and surroundings of the railway stations.

He said that all hospitals, schools and other such department would be given to private sector; however, workers would be provided protection.

Sheikh Rashid said that under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a 56-kilometre track between Lahore and Rawalpindi would be reduced so that the distance could be reduced.

He said that a cut of Rs one billion had been imposed on the billing of electricity and all railways employees houses would be shifted to Wapda meters.

Scales of all employees including railways police would be revised as their salaries were not enough to meet their needs, he said.

He announced construction of 10,000 houses for the PR employees in the major cities. He expressed his wish that not a single railways employee remains homeless in the major cities like Rawalpindi, Lahore and Multan.

The minister said that pension of the employees would be shifted to the central government as the railways was unable to bear the burden of pensioners.

He said that Chaklala railway station would also be included in the upgradation and offered the private builders to come forward and participate in the upgradation of the railway stations.

"More than 30 railway stations would be upgraded soon," he added.

He also offered the private sector to construct five-star hotels at five available sites.

He asked the PR Karachi division to produce Rs10 billion per year to overcome the deficit . Sheikh Rashid invited overseas Pakistanis, media houses, channels and advertising agencies to utilise railway property.

He said that tracks were also available for rent for any business purpose besides 14,000 bridges for advertisement.

He said that special arrangements for disables and old citizens would be made and elevators would be installed at all big railway stations.

"Every divisional superintendent has been directed to make at least 2 plant nurseries and tree plantation would be made along the track," he said.

The minster said that 10,000 old discarded railways wagons would be sold out through auction.

To a question, he said that no new train under capacity would be operated however current under capacity trains would be improved.

He said that all officers had been banned to travel out of the country.

"Bio-metric system would be installed in the railways to insure hundred per cent attendance," he added.

Chairman Railways Javaid Anwar Boobak and CEO Aftab Akbar were also present.

APP

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