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ISLAMABAD: The Nati­onal Highway Authority (NHA) over the past few months has awarded a number of toll collection contracts without meeting the tendering and other requirements, official sources have confirmed.

The toll collection contract on Hazara Expressway (E-35), which was inaugurated in December 2017, is a case in point.

Dawn has also learnt that instead of following the standard process, many interim contracts for toll collection were awarded to individuals and firms at the sole discretion of the NHA’s relevant general manager.

The authority is bearing losses worth millions of rupees due to such interim contracts because in some cases contractors violate the ‘contracts’ and do not make payments to the NHA on a regular basis, as is happening in the case of E-35. The toll collection contractor of E-35 has not been depositing the NHA’s share in the authority’s bank account for over two months.

Under the agreement for E-35, a private firm has to pay Rs2 million to the NHA on a daily basis.

Soon after the completion of Hazara Expressway, the toll collection contract was awarded to a man who left the job after three months and then it was re-awarded to a private firm in February 2018 without any competition.

When contacted, NHA chairman Jawwad Rafiq Malik said a number of such contracts had been awarded on an interim basis.

He agreed that the E-35 contract was awarded by a local general manager at his own discretion without meeting the competitive process or bidding.

Mr Malik explained that two types of toll collection arrangements were followed in the NHA: in one system, it was collected by contractors who won the contracts through open bidding and in the other system — called interim arrangement — the contract was awarded by the relevant general manager for a specific period.

The chairman disagreed with the notion that the E-35 contractor had not been depositing NHA’s share in the authority’s bank account and the entire amount was going into his own bank account.

“It is impossible that NHA is getting nothing. But even then I will check how much amount has so far been received by the authority from the contractor,” he added.

The chairman said the E-35 toll collection contract had been awarded several months ago after the completion of the expressway, adding that earlier the contractor was giving only Rs2m per day to the NHA. But, he disagreed with the NHA’s share and told the general manager concerned that the amount should be at least Rs4m a day.

Mr Malik said the previous contractor was asked to increase the amount but he left and the incumbent took over and now he was paying Rs4m per day to the authority.

On the other hand, the general manager of Hazara Expressway, Jehangir Ahmed, said he had not been receiving the toll amount from the contractor for the last one month because of “technical reasons”.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018