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Railways unable to ship NATO containers: Bilour

30 May, 2012

LAHORE: Pakistan Railways is uninterested in seeking a share of Nato supplies through Pakistani territory, saying it will not be able to meet its commitment if some percentage of the cargo is offered to it because of the weak infrastructure and finances of the company.

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LAHORE: Pakistan Railways is uninterested in seeking a share of Nato supplies through Pakistani territory, saying it will not be able to meet its commitment if some percentage of the cargo is offered to it because of the weak infrastructure and finances of the company.

Addressing a press briefing here on Tuesday, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour ruled out the possibility of accepting the logistics share from possible opening of Nato supply routes.

He was referring to suggestions from government officials that the railways should be allowed to ship some Nato goods to Afghanistan in order to create a new income source and stabilise the company's condition. The railways ministry has been continuously asking for money for rehabilitating the company and putting it on sound footing.

Ruling out the suggestions categorically, Bilour asked, “How can we transport Nato containers at a time when the company is unable to run its normal operations smoothly.”

The minister lashed out at the finance ministry for not releasing the funds approved by the government for locomotive purchase, maintenance of rail tracks and other rehabilitation programmes.

“Since January 2010, we have been continuously asking for money. We are now in mid-2012, not a single penny has been given to the railways yet,” he said.

Bilour pointed out that new locomotives were not being purchased while the current fleet was expiring despite the overhaul of over 20 locomotives from the company's resources.

However, the government has approved few projects for the railways including purchase of 150 new locomotives for which tenders will be opened on June 4, rehabilitation of 150 locomotives, purchase of 40 power vans and 500 wagons and construction of a 12km track along the Afghan border from Chaman to Spin Boldak.

Bilour termed these long-term projects as locomotives would start arriving in two years. “Had these projects been kicked off at the start of our tenure, things would have been much better. Now these projects will benefit the next minister,” he commented.

“We are anxiously waiting for a loan of Rs6.1 billion from bank, so we can rehabilitate 98 locomotives to meet our short-term plan,” he said.

“The payments and other issues we have faced with the management of Business Express (a train service run by a private company) have been sent to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet for review. ECC will take up the matter as we don't want to be blamed for any misappropriation,” he said.

End.


 
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