Need to restore Lakki Marwat railway junction

Barkatullah Marwat

Lakki Marwat is one of the backward and underprivileged districts of the southern belt of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is very rich in self-interested politicians that’s why it has not been able to develop till date, otherwise its folk, particularly the youth are very talented and amazing who have made the name of the district bright not only on provincial level but also on national level.

This unfortunate district is also one of the areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Punjab. On the way from Lakki Marwat to Punjab, one has to pass through the first district Mianwali and also its tehsil Isakhel.

Apart from the road for transportation between KP and Punjab, the railway system was launched in 1923 during the British rule and gradually died out in 1990 without completing a century. The British built the Lakki Marwat railway junction from where the service to Bannu and Tank districts continued for decades. Unfortunately, in 1995, the thieves, considering it as booty, uprooted all the tracks in which the locals as well as the police were involved.

The other day, I along with journalist friends Javed Khan and Anwar Zeb Marwat went to see the Lakki Marwat railway junction, but with the skill with which the British had set up this junction, they returned to their homes with an ideal history. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to properly look after these assets, which is a clear indication of our incompetence.

Now let’s move on to the junction building which had different sections, for instance, ticket office, lamp room, restaurant, workshop and booking office etc. There was a signal pole outside the building. The small colony of 16 quarters which was originally built for the accommodation of railway employees but is now in a state of disrepair. In addition, the construction of a water tank about 70-80 feet high for storing water and pumping water into the railway locomotive and the pipeline laid from it tells a different story.

On the eastern side of the junction, another building was spotted and when asked, the white bearded Ismail Sahib said that it was the rest house where high-ups of the Railway Department used to visit Lakki Marwat and stay here but that was later on used as Police Lines. Strange enough, in Punjab, the railway system was further developed and the Orange Train was launched in its capital, Lahore, whereas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this facility is available only in Peshawar.

If one says that there is no use of railways here because roads and motorways are being built, then what is the use of CPEC because roads already exist, even more expressways and motorways are being constructed. Therefore, each communication system has its own advantages. As far as the Lakki Marwat railway junction is concerned, the people of Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan divisions had benefited a lot with it in the past. It is true that there used to be a coal-fed train (locomotive) here, but over the time, broad gauge train service could have been started here.

By the way, it was learnt that several years ago, the officers of the Railway Department came here to conduct a survey to start broad gauge, but then silence prevailed. One of the main reasons for this is that our political pundits were and still are unable to take interest in restoring the railway system in this backward region of the province.

On the contrary, these were the political pundits and others who could have got the broad gauge train service approved for the rehabilitation and further development of the railway, but they did not do so. If there is no benefit of railways in Lakki Marwat, Bannu, Karak, Kohat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, then why railways are running all over the country. Can’t the broad gauge railway system be introduced in these areas?

The writer is a senior journalist and analyst. He can be contacted at:

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