ISLAMABAD - Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, while expressing serious reservations about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has said that Railways has approached the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for probing procurement of 58 Locomotives from China.

“NAB is hanging our cases for six years and we have reservations over its performance. Therefore, instead of the accountability bureau (NAB), the intervention from FIA has been sought for investigating the purchase of 58 locomotives from China,” said Federal Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique here.

The minister made the disclosure while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Railways. The meeting was chaired by Naveed Qamar.

“We met chairman NAB and asked to actively pursue its cases; however it was of no use as the cases are still pending,” Saad Rafiq said.

In a letter written to FIA, it was stated that the agreements amounting to $61.16 million and $55.69 million were signed with Chinese company M/s CSR Ziyang Co. Ltd, for 25 DE locomotives (3000-3500 HP) and 25 DE locomotives (2000-2500 HP) in Complete Built Unit (CBU) condition in 2012. These 38 DE locomotives were received in the years 2013-14 & 2014-15.

Recently, during the inspection of DE Locomotive No. 6429 ZCU-20, the experts found that under frame left side main beam was cracked at rear side of fuel tank just under the foundation of diesel engine. Railways and M/S CSR Ziyang have initiated a joint inspection of under frame of all ZCU-20 DE locomotives. As a result of joint survey, 16 locomotives out of 29 locomotives have been found cracked under the foundation. The manufacturer has been immediately called whose technical experts reached Lahore for inspection and re-examination of design, which is in progress.

The ministry is of view that the subject procurement be probed by FIA regarding any suspected negligence which is likely to cause a loss to public exchequer.

Briefing the committee members, the railway officials said that 29 locomotives of 2000 HP have earned 1.5 years of service and approximately 350,000 kms on average. The cracks were detected in 2000 horse power, however no cracks were detected in the frames of 29, 3000 horsepower locomotives.

The Chinese engineers have accepted that the cracks in the frames were due to design defect and would be strengthened/replaced at Pakistan Locomotives Factory Risalpur free of cost under their supervision, the minister informed.

The manufacturer allowed 11 out of 16 DE locomotives for freight train operation, said the minister, adding that 5 DE locomotives have been stabled to carry out strengthening/ replacement of under frames.

The company has extended the warranty period of the under frame & now the warranty would start from the date of restoration of these locomotives on replacement/strengthening of under frames. The bank guarantee of manufacturer amounting to Rs1188 million is available with the Pakistan Railways to cover the warranty, the minister added.

The technical experts and engineers of M/s CSR Ziyang, China and M/s Caterpillar , USA are supervising the maintenance of these Chinese locomotives. However the minister admitted that there is no R&D department in Railways and there is also lack mechanical engineering capacity to monitor or evaluate locomotives design.

The committee inquired whether the ministry has taken any action against those who were responsible for making the wrong design. It was replied that responsibility of designing lies with the manufacturer. However, the matter for investigation of suspected negligence in procurement of these locomotives has been referred to the FIA on the directions of the Minister for Railways.

The committee also discussed the agenda items regarding status of Railway Ministry cases referred to NAB; however it expressed annoyance over the absence of high-ups of NAB from the meeting. The committee directed the DGs concerned to attend next meeting and give final report within seven days about the status of Railways cases.

The committee also decided to appoint a Sub-Committee under the convenership of Ramesh Lal, MNA to examine the encroachment of Railways’ lands illegally across the country.