FIA begins investigation into Peshawer bus project irregularities

Updated December 12, 2019

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Earlier last week, the provincial government had decided to seek a stay order from the Supreme Court against the high court’s order for the Federal Investigation Agency probe. — Photo Shahbaz Butt/File
Earlier last week, the provincial government had decided to seek a stay order from the Supreme Court against the high court’s order for the Federal Investigation Agency probe. — Photo Shahbaz Butt/File

PESHAWAR: A five-member special inquiry team of the Federal Investigation Agency, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has begun a probe into the alleged irregularities in the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project in line with the Peshawar High Court’s directions.

After hearing three petitions related to the bus transit system, a high court bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Ahmad Ali had directed the FIA on Nov 14 to probe the project in light of 35 points identified by it and act against delinquents if any found in the inquiry report to be compiled in 45 days.

FIA, KP, additional director Dr Mian Saeed Ahmad told Dawn that the inquiry into the BRT project had been begun on the court’s orders.

He said a special team of investigators headed by the FIA assistant director would work under his supervision.

Dr Mian Saeed said the probe team of the FIA Anti-Corruption Cell also intended to hire technical experts, including from the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, at the earliest.

Official says BRT records sought from PDA, civil sectt

He said the four-member team had issued notices to the project’s executing agency, Peshawar Development Authority and provincial civil secretariat, to provide the agency with all documents related to the project.

The additional director said the FIA was focusing on all 35 points raised by the court about the bus project.

“Since we have received the [court’s] orders on Dec 4, we will be initially focusing on the first 45 days for the maximum utilisation but the task may exceed the time limit as many finer details have to be technically dealt with,” he said.

Earlier last week, the provincial government had decided to seek a stay order from the Supreme Court against the high court’s order for the FIA probe.

Provincial advocate general Shumail Ahmed Butt had told reporters on Friday that the provincial government had prepared a civil petition for leave to appeal (CPLA) against the high court judgment delivered on Nov 14 and would file it in the Supreme Court next week.

“The CPLA had raised different legal points about the PHC’s order besides questioning the suo motu powers of the high court bench,” he had said.

Sources told Dawn that the CPLA had yet to be filed but its final analysis had completed a day earlier.

The high court had raised 35 points covering different phases of the much-delayed project from its inception, planning and execution.

The court had observed that such a huge amount spent on the BRT project could have been used to complete projects in the number of sectors that would have changed the economic landscape of the province and that the provincial government concentrated the loaned money in just one city and the project even didn’t bring about a radical change in the people’s lives.

It had also wondered who took the decision to buy 220 buses when only 65 buses were being used in Punjab for longer bus route and why the project could not be completed in one year.

The court had also questioned why the principal consultants of the project was paid Rs20 million despite their poor investigations and inadequate planning that led to the repeated revision of the project and cost escalations.

Another PHC bench headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth had also ordered the National Accountability Bureau on July 17, 2018, to conduct proper probe and inquiry into the BRT affairs.

However, the provincial government and PDA filed a CPLA in the apex court requesting to set aside the high court order.

As a Supreme Court bench headed by the then chief justice, Mian Saqib Nisar, had suspended the high court’s order on Sept 4, 2018, the findings of the NAB’s inquiry didn’t see the light of day.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2019