Written By: Naeem Ashraf Butt
Pakistan Railways is one of the departments, which have been damaged by corruption, and mismanagement of the PPP led coalition Government from 2008 to 2013. During this tenure, we saw trains without locomotives, coaches without electricity, trains without fuel to run, daily protests of employees, death of a pensioner due to nonpayment, and several other bad incidents such as these.
It became impossible to settle the issues of Pakistan Railways, which is when Khawaja Saad Rafique accepted the challenge to put things in the right direction. In May 2013, our railways had only 95 locomotives, out of which only 55 were running, while 28 power vans were available for the electricity of air conditioned coaches.
Two main things done by the Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique were the selection of honest officers on key posts, giving confidence to all workers and their union leaders. Anjum Pervaiz was appointed as General Manager of Pakistan Railways. This team, under the leadership of Saad Rafique, worked hard and gave their best. In 2014, Anjum Pervaiz was appointed as an advisor to the Ministry of Railways after his retirement, which means that the Minister wanted him to be with the department because of his success in improving the department in a very short period.
After two and half years of the current Government, the Railways has over 200 locomotives, out of which 50 locomotives are being used for freight trains, while earlier no locomotive was available for freight services. Now, the Railway authorities are signing contracts with different companies for the transportation of their goods, while it gets momentum in the transportation of coal to various power projects. Workers are now happy to work because the heavy machineries of Railways are now working properly.
Service of trains and staff are also improving after long time. Trains now reach their destinations on time and even if late, it is only by a difference of 2 to 3 hours, which previously, would be a delay of more than 24 hours.
NAB is investigating eight different corruption cases of Railways and all these cases belong to the last era, which was under the leadership of ANP leader Ghulam Bilour. The NAB has so far arrested former GM of Railways, Saeed Akhtar along with 7 other officials.
Pakistan Railways earned Rs 5 Billion more than the target given by the Government in 2014-15 and Rs 2 Billion more in 2013-14 fiscal year; however, its deficit is still Rs. 35 Billion, which is a long way to go.
Railways Senior GM, Javed Anwar says that,” we now feel happy when passengers approach us for getting tickets and proper seats of the trains, because in previous regime, nobody bothered to contact us for seats. It is a healthy sign and proof of improvement. Now, trains are full of people; many passengers don’t even mind to stand rather than sitting.”