Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Thursday expressed reservations regarding the timeline for the completion of the much-touted ML-1 project after he was informed that the multi-billion dollar project, being built under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, will be completed within three years.
“Three years is a lot. China lays down railway lines in months. If funds are available, so much time should not be spent completing the project,” Justice Gulzar remarked after the secretary Railways told him the project will take three years to complete.
He also said that laying down an 1,800 kilometre railway track was not a problem for China.
The CJP issued the remarks while hearing a case related to a suo motu notice taken by the apex court regarding losses being faced by Pakistan Railways.
During the hearing, the CJP warned officials that the Karachi to Hyderabad railway bridge could collapse at any moment. He compared the bridge with a railway bridge in Kotri built by the British before the independence, noting that the l atter was in “good condition” even today.
“There is not a single bridge over the Indus that the nation can be proud of,” Justice Gulzar regretted. He added that the Ayub Bridge built during former president Ayub Khan’s era was the only bridge that could be considered “beautiful”.
“Good bridges should be built for ML-1,” the judge urged the railway officials present at the hearing. He also directed them to “respect” the Indus as well during the construction because it “runs the country’s economy”.
The secretary assured the CJP that “state of the art” bridges will be built under the ML-1 project.
During the hearing, the court also gave a four-week extension for the restructuring of Railways on the request of the Planning Commission. The court also issued directives to the Sindh government and the Railways Ministry to submit a report regarding Karachi’s circular railway project.
In the last hearing, the court had noted that railways in Pakistan were not being operated as they should be.
The court had observed that there was no demonstrable plan for how the operations of Pakistan Railways could be improved, as not only is the infrastructure of the railways altogether poor and dysfunctional, but its employees are apparently not fit to operate it either.
“There needs to be serious thinking on the part of the Government of Pakistan regarding the operation of Pakistan Railways and overhauling the Secretariat from top to bottom to ensure that the railways operate in Pakistan safely,” the court noted in its order.
The court had expected that such measures would be taken by the government immediately to ensure that the Railways do not play with the lives of the people and its properties are not lost.
The court had sought a report in this regard from the Planning Commission within one month.