Plight of Pakistan Railway’s heard after ‘eleven years’

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Plan to repair Railways infrastructure damaged by angry mobs following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination finalized

Kaswar Klasra

Islamabad

It took eleven years to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform to finalize a project worth Rs.10.46 billion which include foreign component of Rs.4.9 billion, aiming at rehabilitation of railways infrastructure damaged by ruthless mob following assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
The former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007 which resulted in riots across country.
Authorities believe, the violence following Benazir Bhutto’s December 27 assassination cost Pakistan approximately $2 billion dollars in loss of tax revenue, foregone production, and infrastructure damage. In addition, there was some U.S. $5.66 billion in capital outflows, not all of which has returned. Some U.S. company facilities suffered damage, mostly in Karachi and Hyderabad. 18 Narcotics Assistance Unit (NAS)-purchased vehicles destined for the Frontier Corps were heavily damaged while enroute from Karachi to Peshawar.
Damage to the railways was estimated at 12.3 billion rupees ($201 million), while Rs.20 billion ($333 million) was lost in bank looting and destruction and 6,000 vehicles were destroyed.
Damage caused to Pakistan Railways’ property has not been repaired since more than a decade. Pakistan People’s Party, which came into power following general elections held in 2008, tried to compensate, however, failed to take practical steps in this regards.
PML-N lead incumbent government, however, has tasked concerned quarters to come up with a plan to repair the damage.
As advised, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform informed the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its meeting held last month that it has revised a project to envisage special repairs and rehabilitation of 15 diesel electric locomotives, rehabilitation of 87 passenger coaches, rebuilding of 13 station buildings and service buildings at Dadu, Larkana, Shikarpur, Jacobabad and Mirpur repair and rehabilitation of 52 stations and other service buildings. The project was also meant to replace, bridge timbers of 36 bridges, special repair and rehabilitation of two track, repairs to track cranes, provision and installation of electrical interlocking stations, restoration of automatic block signaling and restoration of telecommunications facilities in the affected areas.
The meeting was informed of the consequences of assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, service riots and violence erupted in the country. Enraged mobs attacked railway infrastructure including rolling telecom system. As a result, heavy losses occurred to railways operations.
The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform submitted a revised summary costing Rs.10.46 billion which included foreign component of Rs.4.9 billion. Original scope of the work envisaged procurement of 52 passenger coaches in CBU, special repairs and rehabilitation of 15 DE locos and passenger coaches, rebuilding of 13 station buildings and special repair and rehabilitation of 52 stations, replacement of wooden bridge timbers of 36 bridges, provision and installation of electronic interlocking at 27 stations, restoration of automatic block signaling for Port Qasim and Hyderabad along with allied works in Karachi and Sukkur Divisions.
Following approval of the project, Pakistan Railways decided to change the original scope of the work excluding component of procurement of 52 coaches in CBU which was processed in another revised PC-1 for 202 passenger coaches. Owing to exclusion of 52 coaches, the project was revised and approved by ECNEC on January 21, 2016 at cost of Rs.7.8 billion which included foreign component of Rs.4.7 billion. Project was almost on the verge of completion. Overall physical progress was 97.58 per cent as on June 30, 2017 with financial expenditure of Rs.7.9 billion.
Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform apprised that the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had considered the revised cost of the project in its meeting held on December 4, 2017 and recommended consideration of the ECNEC at a revised cost of Rs.10.5 billion including foreign component of Rs.6.06 billion. Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform submitted a summary of the project with revised cost at Rs.10.5 billion including 6.06 billion.
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) considered the summary in its meeting held last month and approved the project with revised cost of Rs.10.5 billion including foreign component of Rs.6.06 billion.

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