MULTAN: The consultant firm of the Multan Metro Bus Project has warned the commissioner of initiating legal proceeding for blaming it for structural issues in the flyover.

It demands that it (the consultant) should be made part of the committee which is probing the issue.

In a notice through its legal advisor Malik Waqar Ahmed Awan to the commissioner, Osmani and Company (Pvt) Ltd on April 27 stated that it had come to know through a news item (published in this paper) about the committee probing the issue and that further action against the consultant is under consideration under the supervision of the deputy commissioner.

It stated that the role of the consultant in the contract is that of a faithful advisor and “the consultants shall at all time support and safeguard the client’s legitimate interests in any dealing with sub-consultants or third parties. Moreover, the role of engineer in-charge rests with the client (Multan Development Authority).”

Firm says it is not responsible for structural issues

It stated that the firm in the capacity of faithful advisor wrote 48 letters addressed to the contractor and client (MDA) regarding the repair work to avoid “intermittent dropping” which was received by the contractors, the MDA engineers, technical advisor metro bus service and the commissioner.

It claimed that all of the letters were written prior to intermittent dropping as first letter was written on Feb 24, 2017 and last one on Aug 30, 2018 but no concrete steps were taken neither by the MDA (client) in the capacity of engineer in-charge nor by the contractors.

It stated that the consultant already advised the MDA to extend the defect liability period from Jan 31, 2019 to ensure rectification of all defects of the project which was extended up to June 30, 2019 but the MDA did not force the contractors to rectify the defect in the stipulated time period as vigorously advised by the consultant.

The role of the consultant, it contended, is only to advise or give expert opinion and it cannot step into the shoes of client as it can only pinpoint the defects or shortcomings of the contractors and supervise construction with the best professional and consulting standards which it did successfully.

It stated that despite timely advice and numerous reminders to every stakeholder including the MDA, its engineers, project director and contractors, the accusation is being illegally and with mala fide intention leveled on the consultant which is not only against the contract, law, rules, regulations and principles of justice but also amounts to defaming the consultant regarding which it reserves the right to initiate legal proceeding.

It stated that instead of starting blame game, concrete steps should be taken to get the defects fixed and it’s only possible with consultant advice and expert opinion.

“It would be in the fitness of things that the consultant be made part of the probe committee as an expert so that defects and shortcomings in the completion of work be rectified and fixed under its supervision and up to the satisfaction of the consultant and engineer in-charge (the client) to avoid any untoward incident in future,” the notice concluded.

Three committees were constituted after the cracks appeared and portion of concrete fell on Bosan Road on March 30. The first committee was constituted by Deputy Commissioner Muddasar Riaz Malik. Another committee was constituted by the commissioner with the DC as its convener and the MDA director technical, executive engineer roads and the manager operations of the Punjab Mass Transit Authority its members.

The committee in its report on April 15 recommended lodging a first information report (FIR) against the contractor and consultant and action under the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act 2006 against the officers of the MDA engineering wing; however neither the FIR could be lodged nor had action been taken against the MDA officers but another four-member committee was constituted by the commissioner.

It comprises the MDA officials against whom the National Accountability Bureau has filed a reference with the accountability court for allegedly causing a loss worth millions to the national exchequer. At that time the commissioner was also holding the charge of the MDA director general.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2019