ISLAMABAD: The auditor general has found gross financial irregularities amounting to over Rs5 billion and violations of rules in the Lyari Expressway project of the National Highway Authority.
According to an audit report, the PC-1 of the project was approved for Rs5 billion but later it was revised to Rs11.87 billion. Delay in starting the work has been cited as the main cause for the increase in the cost.
The report has been presented in the National Assembly and will be discussed by the Public Accounts Committee and the Standing Committee on Communications.
According to the auditor general, the expressway was to be completed by 2004 but the NHA failed to meet even the extended deadline of 2010 and because of the delay the cost more than doubled.
Other financial irregularities listed in the report include overpayment, unauthorised payment, high expenditures on hiring consultants without any work and facilities provided to officials.
Scrutiny of the record shows that rules, regulations, procedures and instructions were not followed while awarding the project.
The project was auctioned to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) without inviting tenders at negotiated rates in contravention of provisions of the NHA code and Public Procurement Rules.
Work was awarded to the contractor on March 3, 2002, whereas the project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in April 2003.
The environment aspect of the project was ignored. The Lyari river system is suffering from a combination of environmental stresses like air pollution and industrial waste and residential sewage flowing into it but no care was taken to address these issues while planning the expressway.
The auditor general described as unsatisfactory all replies by the NHA officials to these objections and urged the roads construction department to hold inquiries and fix responsibilities for the lapses. Internal controls dealing with payment, recoveries and penalties should be strengthened, the report recommended.