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Minister Azam Swati Hints At Outsourcing Some Pakistan Railways Wings

-- Admits it's not possible to run the entire railways otherwise it will face the fate of Steel Mills

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Newly appointed Railways Minister Azam Swati said on Saturday that the government could not run the Pakistan Railways in its entirety.

“I am admitting being the minister that we can’t run the entire railway,” Swati said at a press conference in Lahore. “We will have to outsource some of its tiers, some parts.”

If a few PR wings were not outsourced, then the department would have to be shut down like the Pakistan Steel Mills, according to the minister.

Swati, however, clarified that the railways would not be privatised at all.

On the other hand, a railway workers union leader said the department was not broke like the steel mills, it was rather earning. There had been a shortage of employees as no new appointments had been made, he told SAMAA TV.

The railways minister was not aware of the department’s affairs, the union leader added.

Swati said inflation is the major challenge for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government instead of any movement against it.

He said that the opposition was a gang of looters and whatever they were doing was aimed at evading accountability.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was struggling to end cartels in the country. He said that a comprehensive business plan for early revival of the railways would be introduced; however, he added that reforms always took time to produce results.

“I have accepted responsibility of the PR as a challenge and the people will observe the difference on the completion of our tenure,” he added.

The minister said that safety was a great issue in the Railways as human life is the most precious thing.

“I have written letters to the provincial governments for conversion of unmanned level crossings into manned ones and in case of any tragedy, the provincial governments will be responsible,” he added.

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He said that the PR would not be privatised; however, capacity building of the staff would be carried out for the betterment of the department.

He said that governments could not run everything; therefore, he added, those sections of the railways would be outsourced which were difficult for the department to manage.
He said that with the help of private parties, an environment of competition could be developed for betterment of the department and to facilitate citizens.

He said that quality of service and punctuality would be ensured to attract maximum number of passengers and to restore the honour of the railways.

Swati said that freight sector of the PR would be given priority for enhancing its income. He said that the court cases would be concluded, the administration would be improved, trust of the passengers would be restored and land encroachments would be cleared in the railways.

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“Embezzlement of Railways lands will never be tolerated,” he warned. He said the PR would be run like a national commercial enterprise, as it supported industry, agriculture and tourism.

He said that track would be given on lease and foreign companies would be invited for the purpose.

To a question, he said that some tasks and responsibilities of the PR police would be outsourced to improve its working.

“Housing is a basic need for the employees and it is also part of the PTI’s manifesto,” he said and added that highrise buildings would be constructed to provide residences to the PR staff.

He said that it was right of the children of the employees to enjoy playgrounds, quality education and the railways would provide them with these facilities near their residences.

The minister said that improvement would soon be visible practically.

SOURCE: MONITORING AND APP