Islamabad, May 25, 2023 (PPI-OT): The 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee on Railways was held today at 12:00 noon in the Committee Room of the Ministry of Railways, “D” Block, Pak-Secretariat, Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Mr. Muhammad Mueen Wattoo, MNA. The Committee was given a detailed briefing upon the issues faced by the Ministry of Railways, which was followed by an in-depth discussion upon other pertinent agenda items, followed by recommendations to support the Ministry.
2. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Senior General Manager, Pakistan Railways briefed the Committee upon the financial challenges faced by Pakistan Railways. The CEO mentioned that Railways is the only Ministry that manages its expenditure, including salary and pension pay-outs by the revenues it generates, rather than relying on the government. It was mentioned that due to the on-going economic situation, the revenue of Railways from passenger travel has declined by 20%, whereas, the freight revenue, in which the transportation of coal to Sahiwal power plant, which generates 320 Mega Watts of electricity, also showed a downward trend. The Ministry showed concern over the matter, as it depicts that passengers are not switching to travel by rail, which is less costly, from other, more expensive modes of travel, revealing an underlying issue of below-par services. The Committee showed a resolve to travel by rail for a trial journey to probe into the matter.
3. In order to uplift revenue from freight, the Committee advised the Ministry to analyze the feasibility of transportation of fuel, gypsum, and other materials via freight trains.
4. Upon the request from the Ministry, the Committee pledged to take up the matter of either allocation of a budget PKR 20 billion or relief from payment of pensions (which would then be paid by the Federal Government) with the government.
5. The Committee also recommended that the Federal Government must provide clarity upon the mission statement of the Ministry of Railways, is it a profit-making entity or a social service.
6. Upon the incident of rape of a girl at Railway Station Okara, the Ministry provided the details of the incident to the Committee, and intimated that the perpetrators have been caught and other staff on-duty at the time had been suspended for their negligence.
7. While discussing the Calling Attention Notice No. 5, moved by Mr. Qadir Khan Mandokhail, MNA, the Committee showed concern for the contract made for Railways School near Kala Pull Karachi, a video of which emerged on social media, showing that female students were made to do janitorial tasks. The Ministry explained that the administrative control of the school was given to a third party due to inability of the Ministry of Railways to maintain the school due to financial constraints. The Committee identified that the administrative control was transferred through a non-competitive and politically driven process, and demanded that the contract should be declared null and void, and a competitive process should be introduced through advertisement on immediate basis.
8. Upon the issue of encroachment upon the land of Railways in Zhob, the Ministry informed the Committee that the matter is sub-judice. The Committee desired that a police check-post to establish the presence of the department in the region.
9. The Committee demanded updates upon the Railway Stations of Haveli Lakkhan, Mandi-Ahmedabad and Nasir Pull.
10. The meeting was attended by Mr. Ali Pervaiz, Mr. Muhammad Khan Daha, Ch. Muhammad Hamid Hameed, Engr. Sabir Hussain Kaim Khani, Ch. Muhammad Hamid Hameed, Mr. Nauman Islam Shaikh, Dr. Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla and Mr. Ramesh Lal, Hon. MNAs. Moreover, Mr. Qadir Khan Mandokhail, MNA/Mover of the Calling Attention Motion attended the meeting. The senior officers from Minister of Railways, Pakistan Railways and Railways Police were also present in the meeting.
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