RAWALPINDI, Jan 6: The Sixth Road flyover has been completed and opened to traffic but the provincial government is yet to pay a major chunk of its cost to the National Logistic Cell (NLC), Dawn has learnt.
Work on the project started on September 25, 2012 and was completed on January 5, 2013. The total cost of the project was Rs1.042 billion but the provincial government only released Rs260 million. The remaining amount will be paid by the end of June.
According to a senior official of Communication and Works (C&W) department not wanting to be named, the provincial government managed to complete the project in its tenure but the payment will be made in the next government’s tenure.
According to rules, the government should invite tenders and select the firms for the construction of roads and buildings. However, in Punjab, the chief minister enjoys discretionary powers to award contracts to government departments or national construction companies like Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and National Logistic Cell (NLC).
“The decision of awarding contracts to NLC came from Punjab Chief Minister Secretariat, and Punjab C&W was given supervisory authority over the matter,” said the senior official at C&W.
According to the official, NLC — compared to other organisations — is not demanding when it comes to payments, and this is one of the reasons for the chief minister preferring the organisation.
That is why Rs1.216 billion for Chandni Chowk Flyover, Rs500 million for Chur Chowk Expansion Project, Rs1.447 billion for Pirwadhai Flyover project and construction of roads around Army House were all awarded to NLC in the past two years without competition, said the official.
A CDGR official told Dawn that the provincial government released Rs260 million for Sixth Road Flyover and Rs380 million for Pirwadhai Flyover to the construction company against the actual cost of Rs1.042 billion and Rs1.447 billion, respectively.
The NLC further outsourced these projects to private contractors and NLC forced them to install Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights at a cost of Rs2.6 million and paid it to them when the provincial government released the funds, the CDGR official said.
On the other hand, the CDGR failed to install LED lights on Chandni Chowk, despite the fact that the project had been completed last year, he said.
The CDGR official added that the construction of flyovers was to be completed before the general elections and the payment would be cleared after the next elected government took office.
When contacted, NLC’s Brigadier Mohammad Shahid was unaware about the funding issue.
“I don’t know but there is no issue between NLC and the provincial government over the payment. It is a routine matter that funds get released early or late,” he said.
When contacted, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Saqib Zafar admitted that the provincial government did not release the complete funds for Sixth Road Flyover.
“The deficit payments are a routine matter,” he said.
Citing the example of Chur Chowk expansion project, the DCO said that the payment for the project was paid after the completion of the work. He said that the provincial government had launched and completed mega projects during the last two years. He said that the payments will be made to the contractors after the completion of service roads around Sixth Road Flyover.