Pakistan Railways Massively Increases Charges for Fiber Broadband Track Crossing

Pakistan Railways has drastically increased the right of way (ROW) charges of a single-track crossing to a whopping Rs. 3.8 million for five years.

The move comes at a time when Caretaker Federal IT Minister, Dr. Umar Saif announced long-awaited reforms in telecom policies and a reduction in ROW charges for fiber broadband to move the country towards a digital revolution.

Telecom operators, while installing fiber broadband, have to cross railway tracks, and historically Pakistan Railways charged Rs. 100,000 per track crossing for 10 years.

With the spread of fiber broadband, Pakistan Railways seized an opportunity to make money from ROW charges and in 2007, increased charges to Rs. 2.7 million for 5 years.

As per law, the ROW fee has to be on a “no profit no loss” basis and cannot be used for revenue generation by the public authorities. In 2022, the PTI-led government reduced crossing charges to Rs. 600,000 per crossing paid for a lifetime to promote fiber broadband as this has been a long outstanding demand of telecom operators.

The PDM government in May 2023, however, canceled this policy. On 12 December 2023, Pakistan Railways announced an exponential increase in track crossing charges to Rs. 3.8 million for five years for telecom operators whereas cable TV operators continue to pay only Rs. 100 per year because the department believes that telecom operators are making more money and hence pay millions of times more than cable TV operators.

“Railways is trying to mint money illegally from telecom operators at the cost of blocking investments in broadband and pushing the country back to dark ages”, said Wahaj Siraj, Vice Chairman of the Telecom Operators Association of Pakistan.

He said that charging an exorbitant fee to pass fiber for a few meters through state-owned land is ridiculous and unprecedented. The move is noted with serious concern among the telecom industry at a time when the Special Facilitation Investment Council (SIFC) headed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan with the Chief of Army Staff as its key member, is implementing several reforms to help the IT and telecom sector.

  • this is nothing, believe me Lahore-PHA (Parks & Horticulture authority) becomes state in the state. In the name of ROW 5000 charges/PIT/Month only. After one month you will take permission with charges. The story is not closed here, there route inspectors taking speed money under the table. All Telcos are witnessed and facing this problem. You may confirmm officially from any major operator. Mr. Hmaid (Director) & his frontman Mr. sibtain is looting from all the way.

  • Farewell to fiber broadband! Elevate the business expenses to an extent that no one dares to venture into it. Although the law dictates that the right of way fee should be on a non-profit, non-loss basis, it seems that adherence to this legal provision is not a priority. If profitability in the transportation business is elusive, resort to extracting revenue from other sources. Demand exorbitant fees, amounting to millions, from telecom operators for a mere 1-inch fiber cable crossing beneath your tracks, while offering the same service to others for a nominal fee of Rs. 100.
    Pakistan Railways is unlawfully seeking financial gain from telecom operators, potentially hindering broadband investments and technological progress in the country. While the move as “ridiculous and unprecedented,” expressing serious concerns within the telecom industry. the irony of such actions occurring while the government, through the Special Facilitation Investment Council, is purportedly implementing reforms to support the IT and telecom sector.

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