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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Back on track: Railways braces for boardroom shake-up

 Back on track: Railways braces for boardroom shake-up


Decision on railways board reconstitution this week.
A meeting by the finance and establishment division to reconstitute the Pakistan Railway Board will be held this week, according to a written reply submitted by the Railways Ministry in the National Assembly.
The ministry said a reform of the railways is currently underway and added that a summary has been submitted with law and parliamentary affairs, finance division and establishment division this week in order to receive their input. The final draft will then be submitted to the cabinet division. Minster for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq said that the appointment of DG legal affairs is underway and the ministry’s Vigilant Cell has been reactivated in order to monitor the activities of field officers and officials. The minister further said that at present there is ban on the recruitment in the department and whenever the recruitment will be started it will be made on merit.
He further informed the house that the computerization of the railways’ lands is a lengthy and tedious process for which the assistance of the provincial governments has been requested.
To another question, the ministry informed the House that as many as 264 locomotives and 731 passenger coaches were not used during 2012-2013 because of the non availability of critical spare parts due to budget allocation. Additionally, no locomotives and passenger coaches have been procured during this period, he said.
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In response to a question from Khalida Mansoor, the minister revealed that there are a total number of 1993 unmanned level crossings over the railway system across the country. The ministry stated that the railway administration wants to provide gates at vulnerable unmanned level crossings with the cooperation of the authorities and the provincial governments. For this purpose, the Punjab government has agreed to provide funding for the upgrade of vulnerable level crossings on the mainline.
Responding to a query on irregularities, the minister said the last audit, examining the accounts of the financial year 2012-13, has yet to be finalized. Irregularities of Rs 30.263 billion from the audit report for 2011-12 were due to unsound asset and financial management and weak internal controls relating to finances, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2014.