Railways laid lowA citizen, Dhaka
OUR railways are in a total mess, as portrayed in your front-page headlines of July 15, and the self-evident photograph of the poor build-up of rail track soil that causes derailments every other day. Then comes the status of locomotives and rolling stock that has reached a dismal state of care, service and maintenance.
It is all due to the cumulative result of years of gross mismanaged and cascading corruption to satisfy the apparently never-ending greed of many of our political leaders and their followers, many of them have been employed in railway management. They have rapidly managed to cripple the railways, and sucked it dry. I am sure readers will agree to this reality.
To sum up, firstly can we change the attitude of the political leaders, because without restraining their needs and greed, nothing can be done? If this is possible, only then can we revive and reorganise our prematurely dying railways. This has to be done — the sooner the better — and the dire need for restraining greed has to come from the top. There is no other way out. It is the first and possibly the only priority.
Immediately also shed and trim all overmanned situations, and support staff in non-technical and operational duties have to be trimmed to the bone. There cannot be any other option for us if the railway has to survive.
Railway rehabilitation’s first priority is to rectify the sorry state of the track and the embankments on which the tracks are laid, which the photograph amply demonstrates. Next is the total overhaul of the many rundown locomotives, the prime mover for revenue earning. Side by side, the required number of locomotives for passenger, goods and shunting duties has to be made up.
Next passenger coaches and goods wagons have to be restored and rehabilitated, and as and where new coaches and wagons added to the inventory needed.
Passenger fare and goods tariff structure need to be realistic, to meet running costs and create reserves for capital investment and replacement when necessary. Government subsidy cannot be a solution any longer. Fares are way behind times and reality, and its revision upwards may be done in three stages, so that a realistic fare structure is established latest before the end of 2015. Fares and tariff must be realistic.
Foreign exchange needed for the replacement of locomotives, coaches and goods wagons and their major overhauls may be financed through bilateral trade agreements with friendly and supportive countries, now that there is a question mark about the World Bank and such sources.
The critical target of rectification unfortunately is within the ranks of our powers that be, term by term in office. If not anything, the World Bank has opened every one’s eyes and ears. Our politicians can no longer turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the criminal reality of bribery and corruption at high places that is destroying the country.
They must have to be clean, without doubts and questions being raised from any quarter. For this, all politicians have to have a long overdue character overhaul. Bribery, corruption and sycophancy in their ranks must be mercilessly rooted out. This should have to be the first and topmost order of business, not only for the railways, but also for the nation to survive and prosper.
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