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April 15, 2019

No plan finalised for KCR, says railways minister


April 15, 2019

Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad on Sunday made a startling disclosure that the design and feasibility of the long-delayed Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project is still not ready.

“No plan has been finalised to build the Karachi Circular Railway. If this circular railway project is not built in the [present] era of Sheikh Rashid and Imran Khan, it will never ever be built in the future,” the railways minister said.

He was speaking to media persons after meeting with the bereaved family members of Rashidur Rehman, an assistant train driver who lost his life in a recent incident of fire in a locomotive engine at the City Railway Station.

He gave a compensation cheque of Rs1 million to the bereaved family and also announced a job for the deceased railways employee’s brother.

The railways minister also announced that Rs500,000 would be given to train driver Muhammad Naeem who was injured in the incident and that the expenses for his treatment would be borne.

Rashid told the media persons on the occasion that the railways division of the federal government would announce 1,600 job vacancies for the people of Karachi.

He said around 150,000 job vacancies would be created due to a project to upgrade the over-70-year-old main railway track in the country, ML-1. He added that the ML-1 project would prove to be a milestone in the history of the railway of Pakistan.

The government also intended to start work on the ML-2 project later, he said. Rashid maintained that the Pakistan Railways had been incurring losses in its operations because of its expenses in the heads of salaries and pensions as the number of staffers on its payroll was 100,000 while 150,000 retired employees of it were receiving pension. He said labourers were the real force of the Railways department.

He said the present federal government had launched 24 new trains in the country while the launch of 16 more trains was on the cards. God is safeguarding the railway track of Pakistan as the country faces the threat of terrorism in case Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces any uncertain situation in the ongoing India’s general elections, the railways minister said.

According to Rashid, the national issues of Pakistan would be solved by the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Freight trains

Rashid presided over a meeting at his camp office in which a proposal to launch four more freight trains in the country came under discussion. The meeting was informed that 12 freight trains had been operating in the country and four more freight trains could be launched in the next two months. The railways minister said on the occasion that the freight train service served as the backbone of the Pakistani economy and expansion of this service would benefit the national economy.

Sindh minister retorts

Responding to the statement of the federal railways minister, Sindh Transport Minister Syed Awais Qadir Shah said the Sindh government was ready to end encroachments on the land reserved for the KCR project.

Criticising Rashid, the provincial transport minister said the issue of encroachments on the KCR land could not be resolved till the time Rashid was the railways minister. He alleged that the railway administration and the federal minister had been causing obstructions in this regard. Shah also said the PM had given the charge of the railways ministry to an irresponsible person.