Railway service resumption delayed due to lack of planning

railway-service-resumption-delayed-due-to-lack-of-planning

With only four days to go for two new diesel-electric trains to arrive in Nepal from India, Nepal Railway Company had announced vacancies for 129 staff for 29 different positions. Questions have now been raised over the recruitment process. The Public Service Commission has asked the company, which is yet to get its recruitment-related bylaws […]

With only four days to go for two new diesel-electric trains to arrive in Nepal from India, Nepal Railway Company had announced vacancies for 129 staff for 29 different positions.

Questions have now been raised over the recruitment process. The Public Service Commission has asked the company, which is yet to get its recruitment-related bylaws endorsed by its board, to restart the recruitment only after doing so.

“We have told Nepal Railway Company to restart the recruitment process by getting its recruitment-related bylaws endorsed by its board,” said a source at the Public Service Commission, on condition of anonymity. “It has been around three weeks since we told the company to do so.”

The government-owned company, which is supposed to run the 34-km long railway service from Kurtha in Nepal to Jogbani in India, announced the vacancies only on September 14, even as authorities knew in advance that the trains would arrive on September 18.

In the meantime, the two trains bought from India have remained idle in the absence of staffers and standard operating procedures to operate the railway.

The source said that even though the commission had already made necessary recommendations to be incorporated in the bylaws, the company issued the vacancy notice without getting the bylaw endorsed.

The bylaws consist of procedures the company should follow to form a recruitment committee, which shall have a public service commission representative as member. “The government can recruit staffers by itself on contract, but a commission representative needs to be involved in the recruitment process. In the case of permanent staffers, the commission does the recruitment,” the source said.

The company says on its website that it is verifying the applications received for the vacant positions.

“The delay in resuming railway service even after the arrival of the two trains shows a lack of necessary preparation on the part of the officials,” said Tulasi Sitaula, former government secretary. “Our government machinery is such that we don’t plan on what to do next.”

He also said that the company may have issued the vacancy notice without following necessary procedures by being guided by personal interests.

The government is also preparing to hire over two dozen Indian technicians to operate the trains. Authorities are working on preparing standard operating procedures that need to be put in place for the resumption of passenger train services.

On Wednesday, Nepali and Indian officials discussed the standard operating procedure during the fourth Nepal-India Joint Working Group meeting on railway, according to an Indian embassy statement.

The government planned to resume services on the Kurtha-Jayanagar route after a hiatus of seven years. Once the railway service resumes, it will be the first broad-gauge railway service in the country. Earlier, the railway service connecting Janakpur to Jaynagar was operated on a narrow-gauge line, built by British India.