LAHORE: Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad on Saturday said he would request Prime Minster Imran Khan for issuance of an ordinance for the sale of Pakistan Railways land to overcome its deficit.
Addressing a press conference here, he said the prime minister had already sought a report regarding the railway land within 15 days.
He said the prime minister’s approval would be sought for recruitment of 23,000 new employees in the Pakistan Railways. About 10,000 skilled employees were needed on urgent basis for improvement of services, he added.
The minister said unfortunately the previous government had spent big amounts on the renovation of railway stations. The job could, he said, have been done with a lesser amount, but about Rs 400 million was spent on each station.
“We will bring private partners and builders for the renovation and upgradation of railway stations,” he added.
The minister said the performance of railway hospitals was very poor, which would be handed over to the private sector on public-private partnership basis.
“I am in touch with the Army Medical Corps administration in this regard so that they may take over the charge of the hospitals and better treatment facilities could be provided to the PR employees at economical rates,” he added.
Sheikh Rasheed said two more upgraded trains, including Moenjodaro Express and Rohi Express, would become operation soon.
He said the main focus of the current railway administration would be on improving the freight sector as it was its lifeline.
“One or two freight trains will be privatised on test basis for the betterment of the freight sector,” he added.
To a question, he said the prime minister had appreciated his work. “There will be a visible change in the railway within 100 days,” he added.
He said the prime minister had been requested to revise one scale up of the railway labourers.
The minister said the facilities of WiFi and tracking system in trains would be provided in 100 days.
He said the people would soon hear more good news, like plying a labour train for labourers.
To a question, he said no suggestion about increase in the fare was under consideration.
To another question, he said no slum settlements (Katchi Abadis) on the railway land would be disturbed on the direction of the prime minister.
The minister said the blind and other disabled persons, with their wheelchairs in the luggage van, could travel by train free of charge. Moreover, one helper of the disabled person could also travel at half fare with him / her, he added.
To a query about more trains, he said new trains would be operated in those areas where road transport facility was not available.
Later, the minister visited the Lahore Railway Station to inspect the rake of newly introduced train Rawalpindi Railcar.—APP