Chinese bank to review USD 6 bn loan for Pakistan's ML-1 railway project

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Beijing [China], April 24 (ANI): The Chinese government has sent Pakistan's first modern railways' infrastructure project -- Main Line-1 (ML-1) -- to the Exim Bank of China for approval of a USD 6 billion loan.

"The latest on the USD 6.8 billion ML-1 project is that a finance committee comprising Chinese officials has sent the case related to USD 6 billion loan approval of the project to Exim Bank," Dawn quoted Pakistan Railways Federal Secretary/Railway Board Chairman Dr Habibur Rehman Gillani, as saying.

It further stated that the construction of the ML-1 project in three phases had been approved by Pakistan's Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its meeting held in August last year. The actual cost of the project was initially USD 9 billion, including the equity amount of the government of Pakistan. But later, it was reduced gradually to USD 6.8 billion.

Gillani said once the loan was approved by the Exim bank, the project would be sent to respective Chinese ministries dealing with the railways and planning and development-related matters. This whole process would take a couple of months, after which the ministry would be able to initiate the international bidding and tendering process for the execution of the project.

The project would have an upgrade of ML-1 from Karachi to Peshawar and Taxila to Havelian (1,872km), laying of a new track with improved subgrade for 160km/per hour, rehabilitation and construction of bridges, provision of modern signalling and telecom systems, conversion of level crossings into underpasses/flyovers, fencing of tracks, establishment of dry port near Havelian and upgrade of Walton Training Academy (Lahore), reported Dawn.

It will create 24,000 direct (20,000 local labour/technical experts and 4,000 Chinese experts) jobs and reduce travel time from Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 10 hours.

Pakistan had suffered Rs 1.2 trillion losses during the past 50 years. In the month of February, Pakistan Federal Minister for Railways Muhammad Azam Khan Swati said Pakistan Railways had suffered Rs 1.2 trillion losses during the past 50 years and the government plans to revive the collapsing organisation but did not elaborate how.

Azam Swati said, "The average loss is between Rs35 and 40 billion a year," adding that the government planned to revive the collapsing organisation sooner than later. But how? He didn't elaborate, Dawn reported. (ANI)