Lahore [Pakistan], September 24 (ANI): In what could cause major embarrassment to Pakistan, the membership of the country's railway body of the Inter-governmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) could be suspended due to non-payment of the annual membership fee.
According to the Dawn newspaper, membership is mandatory for the launch of the intercontinental rail train business under COTIF, a uniform railway law to connect other continents.
The newspaper report said that Pakistan has not paid the annual OTIF-COTIF membership fee for two years on the pretext of the financial crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pakistan Railways' (PR) default in this regard is also among various reasons that delayed launch/resumption of the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train, Dawn reported citing a source.
According to the report, the country's Railways should have paid the fee (about USD 90,000 per year) for a huge department of nearly 80,000 employees and deals with billions of rupees annually.
Dr Habibur Rehman Gilani, PR chairman/federal secretary said the Pakistan Railway would soon clear its dues to keep the OTIF-COTIF membership intact since it is very important for the international rail freight business.
The railways' ministry had also written a letter to the OTIF-COTIF for not doing anything for the PR officers' capacity building, their participation in the research or international events, Gilani said.
"The reason behind non-payment of fee is the financial crisis that emerged due to Covid-19. But being a member, we have a right to ask them about the facilitation they have pledged to provide to the member states," he added. (ANI)