In public sector, Pakistan Railway is a single major mode of transport contributing to economic growth and offering national integration in the country. It comprises of total 470 locomotives (458 Diesel Engine and 12 Steam Engines) for 7,791 km length of route. No doubt, Pakistan Railways forms the life line of Pakistan through catering to its needs for large scale movement of freight and passenger traffic. It not only contributes to its economic growth but also promotes national integration. It endeavors to run the trains strictly in accordance to time table. It is said that the progressive freight train support organization operated through professional management and competent staff endeavors to offer reliable, competitive and economical service of recognized standards to its customers.
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Official said that Pakistan Railways offers an important mode of transportation in the farthest corners of Pakistan and brings them closer for business, sightseeing, pilgrimage and education. The Government of Pakistan also recorded in the economic survey of Pakistan that during FY 2019 (July-February), gross earnings increased by 10.3 percent and amounted to Rs 34,0661 million as compared to Rs 30891.1 million during the corresponding period previous year. During the period July-February FY 2019, number of passengers carried grew to 39.9 million as compared to 35.9 million during the corresponding period previous year, which recorded a growth of 11.0 percent. Likewise passenger traffic km (million), freight carried tons million, and Freight tons km (million) increased by 11.9 percent, 2.9 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.
However, irregularities are being pointed out through the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP), which amount to a shocking Rs97 billion, in his audit report for 2018-19. The AGP has subsequently directed Railways authorities to take action against those found responsible for the massive loss to the national exchequer.
Report shows that Pakistan Railways generated Rs 49.6 billion in the last fiscal year against operational costs worth Rs 85.5 billion. As a result, the state-run service had to bear a loss of Rs36.6 billion. Of the audit objections noted in the report, 56 percent pertain to Railways lands, 20 percent pertain to recoveries and 12 percent pertain to PSDP. The remainder concern losses from theft, fiscal irregularities, and embezzlement. The report pointed out that a staggering Rs51 billion worth of Railways land was lost to land-grabbers. It highlighted that a ‘private mafia’ has been occupying 18 prime Railways sites in Karachi for many years. It also revealed that the Sindh government has been unlawfully leasing Railways lands to private partners who have erected multi-story buildings on the properties. The AGP, however, pinned the blame for the lost land squarely on the ‘incompetence’ of the Pakistan Railways management.
The report also revealed that Pakistan Railways suffered a loss of nearly Rs15 billion due to the failure of its management to recover dues from other federal government wings. It pointed out that maladministration in the Railways Ministry cost a PSDP project Rs 10.5 billion. Report also shows that the Railways administration had granted a contract worth Rs 3.2 billion in violation of PPRA rules. Railways authorities also unable to recover Rs2.6 billion from provincial governments to repair level crossings and wasted Rs2 billion worth of scrap. Delays in the repair of damaged railway coaches also cost the state-run service nearly Rs 2 billion. It also made note of Rs380 million worth of ‘fake expenditure’ in the repair process.
The AGP also criticized Railways authorities for losing Rs3.8 billion because of inaction while auctioning off Railways roads and steel. A staggering Rs52 billion worth of irregularities in the state-run transport service occurred at the administrative level. Another Rs50 billion in losses were a result of embezzlement, fraud, and theft. Approximately Rs6.5 billion were lost because of PPRA rule violations. Different sources recorded that presently an eight member delegation of M/s CREEC Locomotives and Rolling Stock Design Engineers of China closed its week-long visit of Karachi Division. The group visited maintenance and rolling stock facilities within the Karachi division, extending from Karachi to Tando Adam, that entailed locomotive workshop and Shed, MYP and Port Qasim, C&W shops Hyderabad, Sick Lines in Kotri, Coaching, Washing and goods sick lines.
It is also recorded that the CPEC-based ML-1 project would improve the traffic capacity by five times to that of the present capacity thereby highlighting the need of upgrading the existing maintenance capacity. The ML-1, being defined as the life blood of Pakistan Railways in the coming years, requires a holistic modernization of railways infrastructure, automation wherever required, so that synchronization could take place between the CPEC-based project and railway infrastructure.
Sources urged that the new outlook of Pakistan Railways under the ML-1 project would be predicted to ramp up the responsibility of carrying the number of passengers and tons of freight per day. The DS Railways gave an overview of the Pakistan Railways priorities which are envisioned under up-gradation in view of ML-1.