LAHORE – In a prompt reply to some reports that the Pakistan Railways may facilitate in transportation of Nato supplies, the public utility has refused to do so, citing shortage of locomotives as the simple reason.
The Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) had recommended allowing 50 per cent of the Nato containers to be handled through the Railways and it was being believed that by taking benefit of the opportunity, the cash-strapped department would come out from the pervading financial crisis. But it is not ready to take this ‘headache’ at all.
“It is true that we have shortage of locomotives, but the case is not simple as it is being stated,” said an official of the Railways and asked not to mention his name. According to him, the powerful transporters and National Logistic Cell (NLC) would never allow to the state-run organisation to create ‘problem’ for them by taking some share from their business of supplies.
“The Railways is cheaper mode transportation as compared to the road sector and it would be a win-win situation for both the Railways and Nato if they enter into an agreement of supplies,” he added.
The government must help the department on war footage in provision of locomotives and the Railways management itself made a bold decision to utilise some of the running engines for the task, the official suggested.
Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, on March 24, had advocated the restoration of Nato supply and said if the resolution to restore the supplies was adopted by the Parliament, his department would be ready to transport 50 per cent load. But he had demanded the US to provide at least 50 new locomotives to the utility.
“We are already short of locomotives to meet the local freight requirements and how we can give this facility to Nato,” said the spokesman of the department while talking to TheNation on Friday.
He added that the department was fully utilising its freight operation for the supplies of fuel to IPPs and was unable to serve for Nato.
It is important to mention here that Khyber Transport Association, which was transiting 80 per cent of Nato-Isaf cargo till its cessation after the Salala incident, had openly opposed the recommendations of the PCNS, saying it would negatively impact their investment.