Federal Minister for Railroad Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said Monday Prime Minister Imran Khan had given permission to resume some of the train services starting Wednesday on condition that standard operating procedures (SOPs) were followed when the country was fighting the new corona virus.
Rashid, at a press conference, said: “No one will be allowed into the station without a ticket. Nearly 7,000 police officers have been deployed in [the stations in] Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Quetta and emergencies have been enacted. “
Police officers, he continued, will ensure that people do not enter the station without a ticket.
“The division head will be responsible if there is a violation of the SOP and action will be taken against him,” noted the federal minister.
Rashid said “training” had been scheduled at all stations tomorrow (Tuesday).
“If the situation is [of the coronavirus pandemic] remained stable during the month, all train services will continue across the country starting June 1, “Rashid said, adding,” I thank [NDMA Chairperson] Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal, [Federal Minister for Planning and Development] Asad Umar, [Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue] Hafeez Shaikh, for that matter. “
The railroad minister said that he would visit Peshawar tomorrow to review the steps taken, while the day after tomorrow he would see from the green belt.
He said that he would also review the situation at other stations to “ensure” that SOPs and other safety measures were being followed.
“I have no difference with the province in this matter,” he said, adding: “We will need their support outside the train station.”
The Minister informs that there is no age limit for passengers and that he oversees all procedures by himself.
“We are suffering from losses of Rs 5 billion per month due to the closure of train services,” he said.
There were no changes in freight rates, he said, noting that India had “doubled its costs”. “We have not reduced costs because the number of passengers has been reduced but by 50%,” he said.
Rashid denied rumors of a “conspiracy” hatched against the federal government and said: “You must ask those who come here to conspire and now their names are on the blacklist and will soon be on the Exit Control List.”
The minister said that the country’s political atmosphere would change after Eid. “I do not expect changes in the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance and even if there is, I will not support it.”
Decisions are taken ‘without consulting Sindh’
Later in the day, Transport Minister Sindh Awais Shah said Monday’s decision to resume train services was taken without consulting the southern provinces and demanded that Railroad Minister Sheikh Rashid should resign if the SOP was not followed.
“We are not opposed to the resumption of train services […] If the institution faces loss, will it be compensated with people’s lives? ”
Shah added that there was a “contradiction” in the railroad minister’s statement.
Speaking of inter-city transportation, he said the government was in talks with transporters in this matter.
“Some sectors have been reopened without making Sindh confident,” he added.
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