Tuesday, January 16, 2018 | ePaper

BR operational loss hits record high

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Kazi Zahidul Hasan :
Operational loss of Bangladesh Railway (BR) climbed to Tk1,226 crore in the immediate past fiscal year (2016-17), thanks to poor service delivery and operational inefficiency.  
The amount of BR's loss is the highest since independence of Bangladesh.
BR incurred Tk1,110.52 crore operational loss in the fiscal year 2010-2011 and the lowest was Tk 657.94 crore in the fiscal 2008-2009, according to official figures.
"Though the sector is incurring loss, we will run the railway services for the national interest. The government is providing subsidy to BR in the form of reimbursement of its losses," Railways Minister Mujibul Haque told The New Nation on Friday.
He, however, said that the government has taken up a number of projects to
 make the railway service viable and passenger-oriented.
"The government has taken various initiatives to improve operational efficiency of BR. At the same time, it is working for modernizing the railway sector with building new rail tracks, buying new engines and coaches. All these will help improve BR's quality of service significantly in the future," he added.
The government had spent Tk 38,188 crore in the last eight years, from fiscal year 2009-10 and 2016-17 for the development of railway sector.
Of the total amount, Tk 23,586 crore has been spent to the head of BR's development expenditure and Tk 14,902 crore non-development expenditure.  
"The government put maximum emphasis on the development of the railway sector since assuming power in 2009. Subsequently, the railways ministry saw a significant hike in budgetary allocation to transform railway service modern and passenger-oriented. But the scenario has not changed due to lack of operational efficiency and substandard service delivery of BR," Dr Shamsul Hoque, an infrastructure expert, told The New Nation yesterday.
When asked, he said, "BR runs short of potential resulted from institutional weakness forcing it to incur losses every year. BR has been running by non-professional and non-technical persons for long and such a practice has weakened its institutional strength. Corruption is a persisting problem within the railways and the issue should be addressed by infusing dynamism into its top management."     
Dr Shamsul Hoque, a professor of civil engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), suggested that BR should function independently with technical persons. Such a move could reduce its operational loss significantly, he said.
The government has approved a 20-year master plan to make BR a modern, time-befitting and comfortable mode of transport.
The Railways Ministry has been implementing different mega and fast track projects (Padma Rail Link, Dohazari-Gundum-Cox's Bazar rail track) involving several billion dollars.

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