Tuesday , March 19 2019

Multan metro bus case: NAB likely to summon CM Punjab after hearing 14 officers out – Pakistan

MULTAN: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to summon Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a case of alleged irregularities in Multan’s Metro Bus Project, it is learnt.

The chief minister, say sources, will be asked to explain his position after 14 senior functionaries appear before the NAB authorities in Multan within the next few days.

The Bureau had summoned Punjab Planning and Development Board chairman Irfan Elahi, Punjab Metro Bus Authority Managing Director Sibtain Fazal Haleem, Punjab Mass Transit Authority General Manager Aziz Shah, Multan Metro Bus Service Project Director Sabir Khan Sadozai and Osmani Company Private Limited general manager.

The others are Multan Development Authority Director General Asadullah Khan (former commissioner), Member Infrastructure Dr Abid Bodla, Member/Chief Technical Khalid Javed, Additional Secretary Finance Ashiq Hussain Olakh, Additional Secretary Technical Housing Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department Shahid Latif, Social Infrastructure’s Dr Bushra Amaan, Member Services Punjab Planning and Development Dr Naveed Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General Monitoring & Evaluation Dr Sajid Mubeen and Assistant Chief Technical Muhammad Imran.

Sources said the officers had been summoned in the first phase of the investigation whereas Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif would be summoned in the next phase. They said irregularities were committed in the execution of the project by violating the rules of the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority.

They said that as per procedure, any provincial project costing beyond Rs10 billion would be sent to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) which is the approving authority. But to avoid transparency, they said, 18.5-kilometre metro route was divided into nine packages out of which five were of civil work.

Initially, a survey was conducted to construct 37-kilometre long route in two phases and its estimated cost was Rs35 billion; however later it was decided that only first phase would be constructed at a cost of Rs28.37 billion but more than Rs32 billion had been spent to complete the project.

The cost of 35 articulated buses (for metro route) and 100 feeder buses (for various city routes), installation of optical fiber, elevators, lights and other components is not included in the total cost of the project but these expenses were made through the Punjab Mass Transit Authority.

Nine firms participated in pre-qualification for nine packages and it was mutually decided that each firm would get one package which was done accordingly.

Being the consulting firm, Osmani Company Private Limited did geometrical, architectural and structural design and construction supervision of the project.

In the bidding document for the procurement of consultancy service to conduct transport modeling and feasibility of mass transit system, the consultant was directed to not disclose any information relating to the project for 10 years after the expiration of the contract. Sources said that in order to earn maximum profit, safety of the passengers was put at stake by the construction firms that reduced the width of the two-lane metro corridors to nine meter from 10 meter. And instead of following the specifications set by the provincial energy department, they said, model numbers and company’s name was mentioned for the purchase of LED lights for the project despite the fact that the executing agency — MDA — has no wing to testify the authenticity of the models.

Among other irregularities, according to sources, a company which was hired for the provision of imported glass at metro stations used local glass and a probe was initiated by NAB Multan. It was later hushed up, they added.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2018

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