Pakistan Railways international membership may be cancelled

Pakistan Railways international membership may be cancelled

Pakistan Railways membership in an international organization may be revoked. Pakistan Railways (PR) membership in the Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) — established under the Convention on International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) — is likely to be suspended due to the former’s two-year failure to pay the annual membership fee.

Membership in COTIF is required for the opening of the intercontinental rail train business, Dawn has learned. COTIF is a unified railway law connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa.

PR has failed to pay the annual OTIF-COTIF membership fee for two years (2020-21), citing the financial situation as an excuse (due to Covid-19 and other reasons). However, because this membership is required to begin international rail freight operations, the PR’s default is also one of the several reasons for the delayed launch/resumption of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train, a source said.

HE CONTINUED, the PR should have paid the charge (about $90,000 per year), as this is a small sum for a department with nearly 80,000 employees and annual revenue in the billions of rupees.

Railways chairman says they would pay dues promptly to maintain membership.

According to the Bern-based organization (OTIF-COTIF), its mission is to address all areas of international rail transportation to promote, improve, and facilitate it. Thus, it is devoted entirely to rail transport on a global scale.

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It is the sector’s oldest international organization, having been founded in 1893. According to the OTIF-2020 COTIF’s annual report, the organization has 51 member nations and one regional economic integration organization. It employs simple and effective instruments to promote, develop, and facilitate international rail carriage by offering legal and technological compatibility.

If a PR’s membership is stopped for non-payment of the membership fee, it won’t be easy to reinstate it promptly. The insider expressed concern that it is a question of the country’s image. However, Dr. Habibur Rehman Gilani, chairman/federal secretary of Pakistan Railway, stated that the company would soon pay its dues to maintain its OTIF-COTIF membership, which is critical for the international rail freight sector.

He added that the railroads’ ministry had also addressed a letter to the OTIF-COTIF expressing dissatisfaction with the OTIF-failure COTIF’s to support the capacity building of public relations officers, their involvement in research, and international events, and so on. The membership of Pakistan Railways in an international body may be revoked.

“The non-payment of the price is due to the financial difficulty brought about by Covid-19. However, as a member, we have the right to inquire about the facilitation they have committed to providing member states,” he explained.

Imran Hayat, PR Director General (Operations), confessed to Dawn that there may have been concerns with non-payment during the last two years due to the economic downturn.

Since 2010, Pakistan Railways has not run an international train. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has also had a toll on income, as the PR trains are operating at only 70% capacity. The membership of Pakistan Railways in an international body may be revoked.

However, he noted, PR is on track to restart international traffic shortly. The membership of Pakistan Railways in an international body may be revoked.

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