Pakistan Railways minister pushes for commercialization, blames ‘state enterprise mafia’ behind railways' destruction

State enterprise mafia has destroyed Pakistan Railways, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said, as he pushes for the commercialization of stations as part of his bigger reforms to overhaul the sector

Dec 29, 2021
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Pakistan Railways (Photo: Wikipedia)

State enterprise mafia has destroyed Pakistan Railways, Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said, as he pushes for the commercialization of stations as part of his bigger reforms to overhaul the sector. In 2015, Pakistan Railways recorded a loss of over $250 million in 2021. 

His remarks came during the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, where he informed that electricity worth over $11 million was being pilfered annually from Pakistan Railways. “State enterprise mafia” within the railways is responsible for its sorry state, he said. 

He said that a “state-owned enterprise mafia” was wreaking havoc on the railways by contributing to its deficit and exploiting its resources. Besides, he lamented that the tender for more than 1,500 trains was being awarded to only one man, reported The Express Tribune.

The admission from the Railways minister came almost a week after a government report estimated the total losses of Pakistan Railways surpassed $6 billion and pointed out administrative, technical, and other lapses over the decades for its ruins. [read more]

Under its new Public Sector Development Plan (PSDP), the government has been finalizing reform measures to revive crucial state-owned enterprises. The plan envisages the infusion of over $200 million in various sectors. 

Pakistan Railways - like its many other sectors - is heavily starved of cash. The revival would probably need billions of dollars and much-needed structural reforms. Minister Swati has urged the government the pay proper attention to the needs of Railways while finalizing the details of the PSDP. 

Briefing the Senate Committee members, he pushed for the commercialization of railway stations, especially of those which are not much in use.

Pakistan Railways suffers from decades of neglect, unprofessional appointments—in a sector that is multi-technical—and financial and administrative mismanagement. Its contribution today to the country’s transportation sector is just 4 percent.

Around 2015, the government presented a future roadmap, involving its modernization and overhauling. It aimed for achieving 20 percent stakes—from the existing four percent—in the country’s transportation sector. However, most plans remain just on paper in absence of funding. 

(SAM)

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