Revamping of coolie system


THE history of the institution of Coolie or Porter on the railway stations in the sub-continent is still alive after hundreds of years but at this age also, these porters continue to face the worst form of inequality and exploitation at the hands of their contractors.

Finally, Pakistan Railways appears to have heard their cries and reportedly prepared a plan which, if implemented in letter and spirit, will indeed improve the living standards of this marginalized segment of the society.

Coinciding with the World Railways Workers Day celebrated on Sunday, Chief Executive Railways Zafar Zaman Ranjha said a proposal titled ‘Madadgars’ is ready to do away the exploitation of coolies.

Giving details of the proposal, the Chief Executive said a web-based mobile application will be launched that will provide a database of all authorized and registered Madadgars at a station along with their photographs and a specified file for complaints.

By this way, the people will be able to pre-book the Madadgaar before coming to the station and approved charges will be paid to him for his services which will save time and also help the porter keep the track on their earnings.

The services of coolies are extremely pivotal for the passengers at railway stations because the trains are designated to certain platforms and due to the old network of stairs and bridges at the stations, passengers cannot carry heavy luggage from one platform to another.

Hence, it must be ensured that the porters earn a decent earning which commensurates with their services.In Indian railways, coolies fare much better.

They obtain a license directly from the Indian Railways authorities to earn a living as a porter.

Whilst they do not receive pension or insurance, they are entitled to certain privileges such as travel passes for themselves and spouses, medical facility etc.

We may also emulate the same model, ensuring that in case of any injury or death, they get a handsome compensation.

There must not be any delay in getting approval and implementation of Madadgars proposal to bring much needed relief in the life of poor porters.

Efforts should also be expedited to improve the infrastructure at the railway stations. People still prefer travelling on trains and by provision of better facilities to them, Pakistan Railways really can come out of losses and turn into a profitable entity.

For this, the government will also have to back the organization and ensure early implementation of the proposed upgradation of rail track from Karachi to Peshawar.


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