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ISLAMABAD: The National Coordination Committee-Foreign Funded Projects (NCC-FFP) has identified three problematic projects of transport and communication sector where only $19 million were disbursed against the foreign commitment of $636 million during the last five years.

According to documents, the total portfolio of communication sector is $6 billion against 13 projects, where $4.7 billion has been disbursed, while $1.3 billion remain un-disbursed.

The problematic three projects have a portfolio of $636 million, where $19 million were disbursed during the last five years.

The Committee has reviewed foreign funded projects of transport and communication sector, and has directed the implementation agency i.e. National Highways Authority (NHA) for expediting the process.

Of the three problematic projects, one is the World Bank-funded Khyber Pass Economic Corridor.

The project has portfolio of $461 million, while the NHA and Planning and Development Department of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are the implementing agencies.

The loan was signed on December 13, 2019, while the closing date is May 28, 2026, however, no amount has been disbursed so far.

According to the documents, major issues were opening of designated account and delay in selection of design consultant and bid for civil works contract.

The NHA has now opened designated account, while according to the NHA process for prequalification of contractors is on track for the timeline of June 2021.

The committee has directed the Ministry of Communication to vigorously monitor progress and ensure award of contracts within the timeline.

Further, the NHA has been directed to expedite selection of consultant for preparation of Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and resettlement action plan for the southern link road.

Another problematic project is the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project “CAREC Corridor Development Investment Program-Tranche 1 (N-55, 143 KM).

The NHA is the implementation agency of the project.

The loan agreement of $120 million was signed on December 18, 2017, while the closing date is December 31, 2022, however, only $19 million was disbursed so far.

Major issued in the project were non-availability of land record for (8 kms) out of 64 km of Petaro-Sehwan section by the government of Sindh and slow progress on Peshawar-Dera Adam Khel road section due to poor performance of contractor (NIC and Karcon).

It was decided in an earlier meeting of the NCC-FFP that the chair NCC/minister EAD will write a DO letter to the chief minister Sindh.

The NHA and the government of Sindh had to jointly draw-up timelines for resolution of non-provision of land record issue, and share the same with the EAD. According to latest information, eight kms of Ratodero-Shikarpur (44 kms) land record made available, but transfer has yet to be processed at the provincial level.

The ADB reports continued slow progress on Peshawar–Dera Adam Khel road section, due to poor performance of contractor (NIC and Karcon).

The NHA attributes the slow pace of work to COVID-19.

JS (ADB) has requested SMBR, GoS to facilitate in the smooth transfer of eight km of land on. SMBR, GoS has committed to facilitate the process.

Another problematic project is the Saudi Fund Development (SFD)-funded two tunnels on Chella Bandi Patika Road, AJK at a cost of $55 million.

The NHA is the implementation agency and the loan agreement was signed on March 10, 2016, while initially, the closing date was December 31, 2020, however, no amount was disbursed so far.

Major issue in the project was delay in the execution of the project for four years due to slackness on the part of the NHA.

The SFD has established new project extension date till December 31, 2024.

According to documents, the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on January 4, 2021, approved the recommendations of the report presented by the NHA with the following decisions; (i) NHA will carry out fresh feasibility study of the project; (ii) government of AJ&K would take action against the consultant for the inadequate feasibility of the study; (iii) the EAD in consultation with the Ministry of Communication/NHA will engage with Saudi for availability of funds for the project.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs requested Ministry of Communication to give alternate financing and project proposal regarding diversion of funds from tunnel to Road project for sharing the same with SFD vide 4th February, 2021 and subsequent reminder vide 30th March, 2021 but no response received from the Ministry of Communication.

The committee has directed the Ministry of Communication to monitor progress on recommendations of the CDWP.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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