ISLAMABAD: On the directions of the federal minister for housing works, Sikandar Hayat Maken, project director at Project Management Cell (PMC), conducted an inquiry into the escalation of cost of seven projects undertaken by the Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA) and action has been initiated on his recommendation.
According to a press release issued here on Thursday, the inquiry has been conducted with spirit of cleansing the ministry and its attached departments of corrupt elements. The seven projects probed by the inquiry officer include the construction of C-type and E-type apartments in Sector G-11/3, infrastructure work of C E-type apartments in Sector G-11/3 and construction of D-type apartments in Sector G-10/2 of Islamabad and construction of D-type and E-type apartments in Wafaqi Colony and construction of shops near UET in Lahore.
The initial overall contract cost was Rs1.94999 billion whereas the completion cost of seven projects was assessed as Rs2.793199 billion, showing a difference of Rs843.209 million or 43 percent above the original cost of the project, while the engineering estimates given by the consultants are to the tune of Rs1.1018 billion, which is 65 percent above the estimated cost.
Contracts were awarded without proper scrutiny and verification of rates prevailing in the market. Further, the estimates were not prepared according to the site conditions as no soil investigations were carried out.
This led to changes in the foundation design and subsequent rise in the cost. On top of that the contractors are demanding further escalation, which may cause a huge loss to the national exchequer. Award of contracts was also not transparent and only 4-5 companies were allowed to participate in the competition. The price escalation and change in design of the project has ultimately led to delay in its completion by almost two years.
The inquiry officer has recommended that the contractors should complete the remaining work within the amount of contract without asking for further escalation, as the cost is already 43 percent above the original estimation. Recovery of the embezzled amount should be made from the concerned officer/contractors.
The inquiry officer has proposed the strict disciplinary proceedings against the officers of the Technical and Finance Wing of Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation.
The Ministry of Housing Works has initiated disciplinary action against all the officers pointed out by the inquiry officer. Four officers including Ajmal Saeed, assistant director (finance), S M Zohair Khalid, director general (CPM) now superintending engineer in Pak PWD, Athar Nawaz Malik, director general (CPM) now director (engineering) in NCL and Javed Iqbal Malik, deputy director (CPM), have been suspended.
Muhammad Hasnain, manager/DGM (CPM) of PHA Foundation, has been repatriated to his parent department, i.e. the Punjab government. The CDA has been asked for repatriating Ms Naseem Akhtar, director (maintenance) in CDA on deputation, for disciplinary proceedings by the Ministry of Housing Works.
The companies involved in the execution of work were found guilty and have been blacklisted include M/s Abdul Majeed Company (three projects in Islamabad), M/s Iftikhar Company (two projects in Lahore), M/s Techno International (one project in Islamabad) and M/s Toor Trading Company (one project in Lahore).
Moreover, an inquiry committee has been constituted to look into the implementation of the points raised in the report submitted by the inquiry officer so as to make possible the early implementation of the seven projects/schemes.
The matter involving over Rs840 million loss to the national exchequer is being referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for recovery of the amount and prosecution of all those involved in the fraudulent exercise.
The PMC has also taken notice of the malpractices in the execution of development works carried out by Pak PWD in Sialkot, Bahawalpur and Faisalabad.
On the recommendation of the PMC report, Muhammad Rashid (executive engineer, Sialkot), M Irshad-ul-Hassan (assistant executive engineer, Bahawalpur) and Pervez Iqbal Mehmood (assistant executive engineer, Faisalabad) have been suspended and inquiry ordered against them.
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