Pakistan Railways has become a nuisance for some time for its stakeholders, especially the passengers. Despite the ills railways own, no process of accountability has started yet, and never will it be started till the last nail is hammered in its coffin. Obviously, writing is on the wall and sooner or later railways will become history unless some concrete and corrective measures are not taken for its revival. Investors are already eying to grab large pieces of commercial land owned by railways as was done earlier to General Transport Service (GTS) in Punjab and KP.
Rot has gone inside this department since long and various substantial efforts for its revival have failed one after the other, subsequently reducing the organisation to a miser. Once the largest mover of the country is now nearing death inch by inch owing to sheer negligence and incompetence of management. Lack of operational skills, foresight and planning has brought financial bankruptcy to it. No spares, no locomotives, no skilled drivers speak volumes of how poorly the department is being managed. Corruption, the mother of all ills, is rampant and no one is there to curb it or even check it. More than 300 locomotives have gone out of order. 115 trains have been suspended. Private workshops in Raiwind burdened the department with Rs 380m at the time when cash was badly needed. Railway workshop was earning Rs 20m annually before privatisation in 2001.
Downsizing and rightsizing must be made at all levels and dead-wood must be sent packing. Totally dried up income calls for some rational and radical changes in department to drain away all dirt of corruption. An exclusive audit of the accounts of Pakistan Railways should be conducted forthwith to unmask the corrupt elements inside Pakistan Railways.
It’s hard to imagine the miseries and plights of passengers who suffer for long hours waiting for arrival and departure of trains at stations. Besides, being humiliated at platforms for long hours it almost takes a lot more than required to travel from Rawalpindi to Islamabad and the situation is worsening day by day. Inordinate delays, suspension and stoppage of trains have forced commuters to travel by expensive alternate means. Chances are there that other transporters have also big share in the pie of exorbitant profits occurring to them due to complete failure of Railways. Once the safest and easiest mode of travelling is dying an unnatural death.
Is it not a time that heads responsible for bringing the department to sudden but complete collapse must roll for their incompetence and ruining the department?
I S MIRZA
The sad state of Pakistan Western Railway in contrast with pre-independence North Western Railway is troubling. One remembers the electric engines that were pride of the railway with electric poles and overhead electric wires as a symbol of modern Pakistan. Our failure to generate power from hydro-electric dams and dependence on imported diesel to run our railway was the mother of our follies that snowballed in the present dismal scenario of complete stoppage of goods trains and scores of passenger trains as also stoppage of salaries and pensions of railroad employees. This is a sad reflection on the Federal Minister of Railway, Prime Minister and the President. If Indian Railways can run on electric power, why can’t we run on similar lines?
It appears Nero is playing on the flute while Rome is burning. The TV images of PM and President in spic and span dresses and smiling faces are a repugnant sight when we see the flagrant signs of the state machinery failing in all spheres. The government ought to take pity on the people and resign forthwith if it has an iota of conscience left.
DR MUHAMMAD YAQOOB BHATTI