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Railways ready to revamp centuries-old ‘coolie system’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways is ready to alter the centuries-old traditions of porters being employed by personal contractors as a result of the follow was exploitative and extorting contracts within the type of bonded labour.

Coinciding with the World Railways Workers Day, celebrated March 27, Railways Chief Executive Officer Zafar Zaman Ranjha mentioned: “The proposal that is titled ‘Madadgaars,’ that means a helping hand, is ready and will be presented to the authorities for the approval in coming days.”

“Because the private contractor exploits the wages of the porters through different and difficult contracts.”

The historical past of the establishment of a “coolie,” or porter, on the railways on the subcontinent, continues to be alive after hundred years.

Their providers are extraordinarily pivotal for passengers at railway stations as a result of the trains are designated to sure platforms and because of the previous community of stairs and bridges within the stations, passengers can not carry heavy baggage from one platform to a different.

“These railway stations are not upgraded as the railway stations in Europe or West. They have a history. These bridges and stairs are more than a hundred years old. The Lahore Railway station was made shortly after 1857 and was renovated over the period of time but its main skeleton was never changed, that’s why porters are the backbone of our facilitation to the passengers and they also deserve a good wage and better quality of life,” mentioned Ranjha.

The proposal to revamp the present porter system within the railway community is modelled on Alfred Marshall’s famend “Efficiency Wage Theory” which signifies that increased wages induce higher service supply.

Digitalisation of porter system

Along with new insurance policies, a web-based cell software may even be launched that may present a database of all authorised and registered Madadgaars at a station together with their images and a specified file for complaints.

“With all the updated features, people will be able to pre-book the Madadgaar before coming to the station and the approved charges will be paid to the Madadgaars for their services by the passengers that will save them time and also the Madadgaars could keep the track on their earnings,” Ranjha informed Anadolu Agency.

New uniforms and a Madadgaar desk will likely be arrange at stations. A GPS-based armband that might pinpoint the placement of Madadgaars will likely be applied and it’ll additionally file the dialog between the Madadgaar and the passenger.

Legacy of the porters

Muhammad Hanif, 85, got here to the Lahore Railway station after partition and might nonetheless narrate tales of passengers who travelled on trains throughout the partition in 1947.

“I came to Lahore from district Karnal, Panipat India and I started working as a porter on this railway station when I was 15 years old. I have seen thousands of people reaching their destinations and millions of stories unfolding in front of my eyes. But I always wished that the government should do something for us,” mentioned Hanif.

Welcoming the choice to digitalise the porters, Ashfaq Ahmed, consultant of the porter’s union mentioned, “Who does not want to earn a better livelihood? But it is too early to say anything about this digitalisation.”

Salman Rashid, a famend journey author who travelled all through his life by way of prepare, reminisced concerning the previous and wonderful time of railway staff and mentioned: “The station master used to wear a crisp uniform. And the porters were young and vibrant in the 1960s and 1970s.”

“With the passage of time, our quality of rail has decreased and for that, the government is only responsible.”

Railways till the late 2000s had marvellous dine-in bogies wherein the workers used to serve freshly cooked meals and educated waiters used to change trays of meals from exterior of the home windows and doorways of the transferring trains.

“The government had one task to manage the already established railway system. The glorious Khyber mail even had showers installed in it and we used to dine-in in separate areas, but they did not do it right. We have to see what their new projects will be but cannot comment on them before time. But upgrading the system with the latest technology is the need of the hour,” mentioned Rashid.​​​​​​​

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