Govt given four-week deadline by SC to restructure railways

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan gave the government a four-week deadline to restructure Pakistan Railways, also calling on authorities to build better bridges for the ML-1 project.

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The apex court was holding a hearing on the suo motu case regarding the railways’ losses, where the court agreed to give the deadline at the Planning Commission’s request.

In today’s hearing, the SC also summoned a progress report on the Karachi Ciruclar Railway project from the Sindh government and Pakistan Railways.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed noted that the condition of the railways’ bridges is not satisfactory, remarking that the Karachi-Hyderabad bridge can collapse any time.

“The bridge in Kotri made by Britishers is still in good shape,” the judge said, adding there was “not a single bridge on river Sindh that the nation could take pride in”.

He added that the Ayub Bridge built during former president Ayub Khan’s era was the only bridge that could be considered “beautiful”.

“Good bridges should be built for ML-1,” the judge urged the railway officials present at the hearing. He also directed them to “respect” the Indus as well during the construction because it “runs the country’s economy”.

In response, the railways secretary said that state-of-the-art bridges will be made, adding that the recently-approved railway project’s package one will be completed within three years.

“Three years is a lot [of time], the Chinese build railway lines within months,” remarked the CJP, adding that if funds are available then there should be no hindrance in completing the project sooner.

Replying to the judge, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahwani said that a tender has been issued for the fencing of railway stations in the city.

In the last hearing, the court had ordered the railways ministry to work on making travelling by train safer, after a series of train accidents in the country for the last two years prompted serious questions over the ministry’s performance.

Pointing towards the frequent train accidents taking place across the country, the chief justice had remarked, “The way railways is being run, this cannot go on.”

The bench had added that an overhaul of the railways is needed to improve the performance of the ministry.

The court also inquired about the ML-1 railway project under China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and ordered the Planning Division to submit a report.

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