ISLAMABAD: A Chinese contractor is executing a project to make the Parliament House self-sufficient in energy, but the quality of work has worried some officials.

“I doubt this kind of work will serve the intended purpose of producing 1.1MW of electricity on a long-term basis,” a senior official of the National Assembly Secretariat said, about the Solar Power Generation System (SPGS) being installed there since April.

Not only has the contractor, appointed by the Chinese government, refused to provide daily progress reports to the secretariat, it has also not submitted drawings of the SPGS project, initiated with a Rs500 million Chinese grant, the official told Dawn.

Acting Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi noted flaws in the work when he visited the project in the last week of October after suspicions that low quality material was being used in construction.


Acting National Assembly Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi noted flaws in the work during a visit to the project site


Even after mechanical tests carried out by the University of Engineering and Heavy Mechanical Complex at Taxila found weak threads’ strength, the secretariat discovered that the contractor continued to use the same weak anchor bolts. Neither did the contractor periodically test the strength of concrete cubes for the beams meant to support solar panels.

Secretariat officials were alarmed that beam-column joints had been filled with concrete. They also observed empty spaces between the photovoltaic plates, which, the contractor was informed, will cause leakages.

“Under our agreement, the contractor cannot proceed with the work until the highlighted flaws are rectified – it has carried on with impunity,” the official said.

Despite several requests, the contractor has not provided the secretariat details of the interconnectivity of the SPGS with the national grid, when the project is set to be complete by December 6. Those details are mandatory for securing a license from the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company, according to the official.

However, memos fired by the secretariat to ‘all concerned quarters’ – including the speaker, deputy speaker and the Economic Affairs Division of the federal government – about ‘the substandard work’ seem to have been in vain.

All that the Secretary National Assembly, Mohammad Riaz, could do in the situation was hope.

“I hope the contractor will remove the flaws pointed out by our engineer,” he told Dawn. “We all wish that the Chinese-aided project is completed and runs successfully.”

Some of his colleagues are not as hopeful.

“We are unable to understand the laxity shown by the Economic Affairs Division. After all, it is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan to ensure that money is spent honestly and efficiently,” they say.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2015

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