Government plans to pull Pakistan Railways out of crisis.
The Ministry of Ports and Shipping has waived the demurrage imposed on cargo during the recent 11-day strike staged by goods transporters in an attempt to ease the hardships faced by the business community.
Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael announced this at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Wednesday.
Speaking to the KCCI members, the minister said businessmen would not pay any demurrage on the cargo stuck at ports during the strike and the charges that had already been paid would have this payment used for future consignments.
Replying to a question about detention charges imposed by container terminals, Michael said he would immediately take up the issue with all container terminal operators and it would be resolved in the next few days.
Michael was accompanied by Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, who said his ministry had prepared plans to pull Pakistan Railways (PR) out of the current crisis.
About privatisation of the PR, he pointed out that if the government succeeded in making the organisation profitable, there would be no need to privatise any of the components of the railways.
“I want to improve the functioning of the PR and transform it into a profitable organisation. If I fail to do so, I will simply step down,” he declared.
The railways ministry will also be undertaking aggressive marketing and branding initiatives in the entire PR where every wall, billboard and train platform will be utilised in order to earn revenue for the railways.
“PR is on recovery track and the ministry has already surpassed some of the key financial targets set by the government,” Rafique said.
Replying to a question about the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), he said his top priority was to revive the project and he would hold a series of meetings in the next five days to review the important project and devise a plan of action.
He agreed to take along two representatives of the Karachi Chamber in future meetings on the KCR.
“We are trying to convince the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to finance the KCR and are making efforts to honour our commitments. In case, JICA refuses to provide funds, we will explore other means for arranging funds for the project, which has become inevitable for the Karachi city,” he added.
KCCI’s former president Siraj Kassam Teli said Karachi was not just a city, but “Karachi is Pakistan” with a massive population of 20 million and was contributing more than 60% to the national exchequer.
He asked the visiting ministers to accord priority to the business activities in Karachi according to its size, population and contribution to the national economy.
He was of the view that the political process under democratic governments that started some six years ago must continue as it helped in further refining the overall political scenario.
Underlining the need for reviving the KCR project, Teli said the project had become indispensable for the city keeping in view the rising population and regular massive traffic jams on major roads.
KCCI members pressed the railways minister to start indiscriminate action against encroachments on various pieces of land of the PR and ports.