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

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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.

He said that it was a failure of India that that chose to not to

be part of the OBOR.

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.APP/msh/bl/rsd

VNS, Lahore