By Raza Ruman
(Pak Destiny) One scandal follows another in the Pakistan Railways but who cares here.
Going by the Auditor General of Pakistan’s 2016 report one railways first luxury train – Business Express – a private-public venture has turned out to be big loss for the railways… thanks to ever active railways minister Saad Rafique who claims to have changed the fortunes of the railways but ending up causing more losses to it.
Be it a luxury train or Rafique‘s fancy idea of running a bullet train the matters in the railways are going from bad to worse and Prime Minister seems to have turned a blind eye to it.
Rafique tried to befool Nawaz and others with an idea of ‘bullet train‘ here. It may be launched on paper but practically nothing is being done on this fancy idea of the blue-eyed minister who spends more time in defending Sharifs Panama scandal case than focusing on the railways affairs.
Yesterday another five people were killed at the railway crossing… this is the fourth successive incident in the last two months. Seven children who were boarding a rickshaw lost their lives after a train hit it near Lodhran last month. Be it loss of life or financial one no one at the helm of affairs is ready to probe massive irregularities in the railways. It is being said in the railways circles that accountability of the minister and others will begin if PML-N government is replaced in 2018 election.
The AGP reports pinpoints: “Saad Rafique-led management has totally ignored the government policy and no guidance attained from Infrastructure Project Development Facility (IPDF). The process of handing over Business Express, Hazara Express, Shalimar Express and Night Coach was neither planned nor monitored appropriately. No feasibility study was conducted before awarding the contracts. The bidding process was not transparent and a lot of irregular practices were followed in all cases like negotiations and selection of private firms was made even before the publication of advertisements regarding invitation of bids.”
Express Tribune quoting the AGP report further says the bidding process was vague as negotiations were made with the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), proposals were initiated, discussed and decided before the advertisement of notice for the `Expression of Interest’ in newspapers. “The criteria for technical evaluation was baseless and irrational as the financial health of the company, previous experience, registered office, staff position and ability of the company to run business express was totally ignored and only value added investment was taken as the sole criteria.”
The railways management the report says did not plan to outsource the commercial management of Shalimar Express but the operation of the train was suspended on July 29, 2010 with an earning of Rs482.117 million. A benchmark of only 60% of total carrying capacity was proposed, which was further raised to 65% but was still below Rs9.321 million than the earning of the train suspended.
One hope someone takes notice of this and fix things before it is too late. — Pak Destiny