Lahore: Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed while addressing a news conference in Lahore said that the Government has decided to cut the cost of the Railway line up gradation project by $2 billion because “Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford huge burden of the loans,” The project was initially priced at $8.2 Billion but now has been cut down to $6.2 Billion. The Minister said that he wishes to further reduce it to $4.2 Billion.
The ML-1 is the railway line stretching 1,872 km (1,163 miles) from Karachi to the Peshawar. Its up gradation and enhancement of capacity has been termed vital for CPEC project.
This new initiative is a part of Pakistan’s effort to rethink Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. Pakistan has invited third countries to invest in the project on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model that would rely less on debt. USA has warned that loans can ultimately turn into debt traps for poor countries that are unable to pay the money back although Beijing denies such claims as absurd.
”CPEC is like the back bone for Pakistan, but our eyes and ears are open,” Rasheed said.