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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Monday observed that the National Highways Authority (NHA) awarded mega road projects to only selected companies during 2009-21, while reputed companies were deliberately disqualified.

The sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Communications met under the chairmanship of Saifullah Abro here on Monday to identify causes for cost overruns only of completed/ongoing projects of the NHA from 2009 to 2021 with a minimum overall cost of not less than one billion rupees.

The committee expressed annoyance over the absence of the Minister for Communications, Secretary Communications and the Chairman NHA from the meeting while observing that if they (the parliamentarians) could come from Sindh and Balochistan province, then the ministers and bureaucracy should also attend the committee meeting.

The committee further observed “how can matters be reviewed in the absence of the secretary Communications and the chairman NHA,” adding that billions of rupees of the nation had been spent on those projects. “All of them are accountable to the Parliament. The minister and the chairman NHA should ensure their participation in the next meeting,” the chairman remarked.

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The NHA officials informed the committee that the chairman NHA had been given the charge of secretary Communications and would be present in the next meeting. Informing the details of the projects from 2009 to 2021, the NHA officials said the committee was informed earlier that there were a total of 125 projects. Then, other details were provided in light of the committee’s questionnaire.

The committee convener said he had shared a list of some projects with the committee so that their details should also be provided and the details of all those projects including the estimated cost of any project, total cost, total number of companies participating in the tender, how many pre-qualifications, how many companies disqualified etc. should be provided to the committee. Further, bank reports of some projects were also sought but were also not provided. The committee convener said it was also observed that only eight to 10 companies had been given those projects from 2009-21.

Projects were awarded to different companies of the same contractor while big and reputed companies were deliberately disqualified. It would be better the ministry prepares all the details of these projects that have been taken up by the committee within three days till August 26. The committee meeting will be called and would review these details.

The committee also sought the details of the Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway. Senator Manzoor Ahmad said that due to the recent rains and floods in Balochistan province, many roads infrastructures had been destroyed.

“People are facing numerous problems in commuting. The NHA should inform the committee in detail in the next meeting of actions taken for the rehabilitation of these road projects.” The meeting was attended among others by senators, Danesh Kumar, Manzoor Ahmed, additional secretary Ministry of Communications, and NHA officials.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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