Pakistan Railways is determined to upgrade cargo transportation services to facilitate the industry, said Pakistan Railways Secretary Habibur Rehman Gilani.

Talking to the business community during his visit to the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) office on Friday, he said that the initiative would reduce the cost of doing business for the industry and enable exporters to compete with regional competitors.

He admitted that Pakistan Railways had turned passenger-centric over the past few years and lost its competitiveness in freight handling. However, he dispelled the impression that cargo handling was not a priority of the entity.

“Cargo handling by Pakistan Railways increased from 0.4 million tons in 2012 to over 5 million tons in 2017,” he revealed.

He expressed the commitment to further improve the cargo handling segment by focusing on cost-effective, expeditious and state-of-the-art cargo movement.

“Pakistan Railways, being an essential component of economic security of the country, is being upgraded to ensure least human interaction for the provision of quality services,” he said.

“The department has already outsourced its freight handling segment to Pakistan Railways Freight Transportation Company and we are in the process of outsourcing passenger trains as well.”

He announced complete facilitation for businessmen from his organisation in terms of logistics and cargo transportation.

The secretary called for forming a joint railways-Aptma committee for the resolution of day-to-day operational issues.

Speaking on the occasion, Aptma Chairman Rahim Nasir highlighted the strengths and potential of textile industry of Pakistan.

He emphasised that the textile sector was on a growth trajectory with a lofty export target of $21 billion for the current fiscal year. He pointed out that the sector shipped merchandise worth $15 billion abroad last year.

“The industry is set to receive new investment of $5 billion, add 100 new plants and create 500,000 extra jobs,” he announced.

He appreciated the government for providing an enabling environment for growth of the textile industry. “The consequent increase in exports is earning foreign exchange for the country.”

Nasir added that a phenomenal growth in global trade, on the back of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, had not only sparked shortage of containers, but also increased shipment and freight costs.

He urged Pakistan Railways to play a proactive role in facilitating exporters for coming out of the disadvantageous position.

The Aptma chairman proposed a dedicated freight corridor for effective and expeditious transportation of cargo.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2021.

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