By Adnan Rafique
ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of recent fatal train crashes, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Pakistan Railways (PR) to take immediate measures to make peopleâ€™s journey by train safer.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed was hearing a suo motu case pertaining to financial losses the Railway department has been inflicting on the national kitty.
At the outset of the hearing, the countryâ€™s top adjudicator wondered where will Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed appoint 100,000 people as the railways already had 77,000 employees. The funds Pakistan would get from China for ML-1 project will go to new hirings, he remarked.
At this, the federal law officer replied that the government is trying cut the current strength of Pakistan Railways employees to 56,000 while 100,000 people will be recruited for the ML-1 project. Coming down hard on the railway secretary, the chief justice said the top PR official was unable to run the department.
â€œThe railway secretary, chief executive officer, and all divisional superintendents will have to be fired,â€ he added. â€œOur railway system is such that the train chugs on the old tracks while countries around the world are running bullet trains.â€ The secretary informed the judges that railway stations will be commercialised as per the ML-1 project with the elimination of level crossings which have led to multiple fatal crashes in the country as flyers or underpasses will be built at such crossing to avert such accidents.
The bench observed that the railway infrastructure is too outdated to be able to function, stressing the need for overhauling all departments of the PR. It summoned a detailed report on the ML-1 project.