Rs 1000 bln agreement for ML-1 with China great achievement: Saad

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APP33-18 LAHORE: May 18 – Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique addressing a press conference at Railway Headquarters. APP photo by Tabasam Naveed

LAHORE, May 18 (APP): Pakistan Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique
said on Thursday that the framework agreement for investment of Rs 1000 billion on upgradation of PR’s Main-Line (ML-1), signed with China was a
big breakthrough for the Railways.
Addressing a press conference at the PR headquarters here, he said
that these funds would be spent on upgradation of Peshawar to Karachi
track, PR Walton Acadmy Lahore, and upgradation of Havelian Container Terminal.
He said that this investment would transform the railways, and the
people of Pakistan would see a new railways in near future.
The minister said that under this agreement, the ML-1 track would be
upgraded for speed of 160 km/hour, double track would be laid, fencing
would be installed in populated areas along the track, automatic
modern signalling system would be introduced for accident-free
travelling, new locomotives of 160 km/hour speed would become part of
the railways.
He said that work on this project would be started in the current year
while a project management consultant (PMC) would be appointed to monitor
the project and its progress.
“We did not accept Chinese as the PMC and an impartial consultant
would be appointed after international and transparent bidding,” he added.
The minister declared the Pakistani delegation’s visit to China
along with all four chief ministers under the leadership of Prime
Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as fruitful and successful.
“We attended the One-Road-One-Belt (OROB) seminar and signed several
agreements and MoUs,” he said.
“It was a beautiful scene for the nation that all chief ministers
and several federal ministers jointly participated in the activities for development of the country without any political differences,” he added.
“We represented the country by joining hands which shows politicians can
move forward without any differences,” he said.
The minister congratulated the prime minister for the successful
visit.
He thanked the Pakistan Army and its organisation, Frontier Works
Organisation (FWO) and said that all institutions are working with the
PR and the engineers of the Pak Army Signals Department had developed a modern signalling system for level crossings.
The minister said that the Railways earned Rs 36 billion in the previous
year, and it is expected to earn Rs 41 billion this year.
The Railways revenue is likely to reach Rs 53 billion in future,
he added.
He said that the PR spends 74 per cent of its income on pay and pension,
16 per cent on fuel, while only 10.5 per cent is spent on the entire railways.
He said that the PR was working with provinces for mass transit
projects in provincial capitals and work on restoration of Karachi
Circular Railways was in progress.
“Peshawar Mass Transit Railways was also under consideration
and the federal government is working with the provincial governments
on it,” he added.
To a question, the minister said that development in China is
unmatched in the world and the OBOR is very important, adding that
Prime Minster Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took a right initiative and signed
the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement with China.
The minister said that the world was changing, and China was playing
a leading role in it.
He called upon all stakeholders including the media, businessmen,
officers and common people to play their role in making CPEC a success,
as it would be beneficial for the next generations.
“CPEC is flagship project of the OBOR,” he said adding that “critics
should visit China to see what is development and how the country is building roads and communication networks.”
To a question, the minister said that Pakistan has persuaded
China to extend long-term most favourable loan for Pakistan, adding
that it was an effort of the delegation that mark-up might not go beyond
two percent rate on these projects.
He made it clear that the investment is only for the ML-1 and
it would be for five to six years time period, adding that the PR
needs 30-35 billion US dollars for complete transformation.
To another question, he said that the world knows that development
of the country was dependent on development of railways, seaports,
roads, airways, internet and pipelines, but some elements made fun of
the vision of the prime minister when he started the development process
in 1990.