ML-1 project to employ 90% local workforce: Railways Minister

Pakistan Railways Minister, Sheikh Rashid said that Main Line-1 Project under CPEC to revamp entire structure of Pakistan Railways. Speaking at a press conference, Railways minister termed the project as ‘revolutionary’ and was of the view that project will significantly reduce railway accidents. He said that under the agreed terms, during construction phase total 150,000 people would work on project out of which 90% will be locals while rest 10% will be Chinese Engineers.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Friday the Main Line (ML)-1 project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would help control railways accidents and generate hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) was expected to approve the ML-1 project this month and the work on it would start this year.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General [Qamar Javed] Bajwa have worked hard on the ML-1 project,” he told reporters. “It is a revolutionary project. It will revamp the entire structure of the Pakistan Railways.”

The minister said the ML-1 would be a crossing-free track and reduce the travel time from Karachi to Lahore to seven hours and from Lahore to Rawalpindi to two hours. “The ML-1 is very important for reducing railway accidents,” he added.

The $9 billion project, according to the minister, would allow trains to ply at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour. However, he added that the speed could be increased later. “The ML 1 will later become a bullet train track.”

He said 150,000 people would work on this project, out of which 90% construction workers would be locals. “Only 10% of the engineers will come from China. This is the part of the deal,” he said. “Retired employees can also join the construction project.”

Referring to Thursday’s ruling by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad on a suo moto case, the minister said Pakistan was going to change after the decision of the chief justice. “The superior judiciary is right, whatever it says and whatever it does,” he added.

Commenting on the political scenario, he said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will complete his five-year term in office, adding that the only neat and clean people would contest the next general elections. He said that July was an important month in this regard.

The minister said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would get more powers. He added that the opposition did not have the strength to go beyond talk shows on the TC channels. “The whole game will be over in 120 days,” he said.

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