ISLAMABAD: To connect with the Central Asian Republics (CARs), Pakistan is seriously considering the construction of a Pak-Afghan railway track which will extend to Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan and can go all the way up to Uzbekistan.

This was stated by senior officials of the Railways Ministry, while briefing a parliamentary panel here on Friday, saying the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan rail link is very much possible and for which a memorandum of understanding has already been signed.

The National Assembly's Sub-Committee of Railways meeting which was held under the chairmanship of Chaudhry Mohammad Hamid Hameed was informed by the Additional Secretary Railways Syed Mazhar Ali Shah that the link will help promote regional connectivity and bring economic development for close to three billion people of South Asia, Central Asia, and China.

Responding to a question about financial losses incurred to Pakistan Railways (PR) owing to floods, the ministry officials said that the PR was facing daily over Rs100 million losses owing to the close down of operations on major sections. PR has suffered an estimated Rs7 billion financial losses owing to the floods. The officials said that the ministry was making all-out efforts to restore the railway operations as early as possible. “We are hopeful of restoring the operations in early October 2022”, the official maintained.

The meeting was informed that the PR has set a scrap sale target for the ongoing financial year at Rs3.5 billion, adding that from January 2022 to September, PR has earned Rs684.175 million against the set target of Rs465 million by selling scrap. During this period, the ministry has sold 9,538 tons of scrap.

The additional secretary said that PR operations from Taftan to Dalbadin have been restored and the department is working to restore the remaining part of the linkage so that Turkish relief goods could reach Quetta. “The relentless monsoon rains and floods have not only destroyed the many railway tracks but also damaged the bridges which disconnected Sindh and Balochistan with other parts of the country,” the officials informed the panel. “The technical and non-technical staff of the department was working in three shifts to restore the tracks once the flood water recedes,” the sources added.

They said during the last month, Quetta was disconnected from the rest of the country after a bridge collapse at Mach Station, which had resulted in the cancellation of seven important trains between Karachi and Quetta. Pakistan Railways had also announced the suspension of operations of five express major trains on the Main Line-I (ML-I) a few days ago until the rehabilitation of railway tracks, they said.

The officials said the main line of Pakistan Railways was under the flood-water between Tando Masti Khan-Gambat and Mehrabpur-Lakhro sections. Similarly, the track was submerged at various spots in Balochistan. “On the direction of Minister for Railways Khwaja Saad Rafique, the department is putting maximum efforts for the rehabilitation of the railway track in Sindh, Balochistan, and other affected parts of the country shortly.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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