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KARACHI: The Transparency International (TI) has expressed concerns over the alleged violation of SPPRA Rules 2010, in Karachi Safe City Project.

According to TI Pakistan, it had received a complaint on allegation of violation of SPPRA Rules 2010, in Karachi Safe City Project (10,000 Camera etc.) unsolicited award process to M/s NRTC, and at inflated cost of Rs30 billion - which is 5 times the market cost - from Rs6 billion.

In a letter written to Sindh Minister for Information Technology Taimur Talpur, TI Pakistan has requested him to examine the complaint, and TI Pakistan observations and recommendations, and to take immediate action to prepare a realistic cost estimate of Rs7 billion project, based on the current market rates, and invite open tenders in compliance of SPPRA Rules 2010, otherwise this contract may be declared as mis-procurement under SPPRA Rule.

The complainant has made following allegations:

  1. Government of Sindh has approved Rs30 billion Karachi Safe City Project, for installation of 10,000 CCTV cameras in three phases under the project and each phase would be completed within 12 months starting from the financial year, 2021-22.

  2. During last few years, a number of European, and Chinese companies have given presentations to Sindh Government of Karachi Safe City Project, and due to innovation in latest technology, prices of IT CCTV Camera, sensors, solar system & ancillaries have reduced by 50 percent in last 5 years, and the estimated cost indicated to (Government of Sindh) GoS by these companies have been within range of Rs5 to Rs7 billion for 10,000 CCTV camera Project.

The open market cost of 8,000 cameras of 12 megapixel (MP) and 2,000 of eight MP installed at over 2,000 locations with solar back-up, is less than US $600 each and total import will cost less than Rs1 billion.

  1. Sindh Government had also awarded Karachi Safe City Project of 10,000 Camera, to a Chinese company M/s ZTE in March 2017 but NAB expressed the opinion that Karachi’s safe city project was not in safe hands and declared it illegal. According to NAB, the project worth Rs10 billion begun with irregularities as terms and conditions of the contract were changed under the table in order to award the consultancy, services and feasibility to the favourite company and other companies running for the project were kept in complete dark.

  2. But in 2021 Sindh Government has inflated old estimate of Rs10 billion - which was also highly inflated as NAB has carried out inquiry - PC-I for Karachi Safe City Project to Rs30 billion, for the reason best known to GoS.

  3. With identified specification/ brands/ foreign suppliers, GoS invited proposal from National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) for Karachi Safe City Project, and NRTC has submitted technical and financial proposals, which are being evaluated by a nine-member technical committee to be headed by the chief operating officer (COO).

  4. According to SPPRA Rules 2010, this project has to be advertised for Open Competition, and the estimated cost shall be prepared by department based on Market rates.

  5. NTRC is not manufacturer of CCTV Camera or related accessories, and has no experience of this project, and cannot be awarded Contract without open bidding.

  6. There are strong rumours in market that if this project is awarded to NRTC at PC-I Cost, it will cause loss to exchequer of at least Rs23 billion. The TI Pakistan has examined the complaint, and following our observations.

  7. This unsolicited contract worth Rs30 billion cannot be awarded without open bidding according to SPPRA Rules 2010.

  8. PC-I cost of Rs30 billion seems to be very high and padded, and has to be re-examined, as the complainant has indicated the cost of imported equipment is less than Rs1 billion.

  9. In a similar type of project award, Supreme Court of Pakistan on 29.12.2009 in Constitutional Petition No.91 of 2011 & CMA NO.2624 of 2011 And Constitutional Petition No.57 of 2012, also declared unsolicited award of Islamabad Safe City Project to M/s Hawaii as illegal.

And also the exemption granted from PPRA Rules was declared illegal and invalid having been executed in violation of the mandatory provisions of the Public Procurement Rules, 2004, as the exemption therefore purportedly granted under Rule 42 (c)(v) ibid was based on extraneous and irrelevant reasons and therefore of no legal effect or consequence.

An on the PC-I Cost, the Supreme Court Order includes a paragraph a committee, “As far as the cost of equipment is concerned the cost of most equipment mentioned in the PC-1 is almost three times the cost of comparable equipment available in the market”.

D. Already two inquiries are under investigations on corruption allegations for award of Karachi Safe City Project in the last 6 years.

E. This project was awarded in 2016 also at highly inflated cost of Rs10 billion, SPPRA also confirmed to NAB on 22 Dec 2016, that the procuring agency did change the criteria of evaluation, and the Contract can be terminated as per Terms of the Agreement, and the contract was declared illegal by NAB.

F. In 33rd meeting of Board of Directors of Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority held on Tuesday, 7th May, 2019, on the exemption from SPPRA Rules, directed by the Federal Government, to Telecom Services (Voice / Data) from National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC), Board did not approve due to negative legal opinion by Law Ministry. Similarly National Radio & Telecommunication Corporation NRTC also cannot be awarded unsolicited Contract.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021