ISLAMABAD: Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has not auctioned revenue collection contracts for the last one year and instead has been collecting meagre amounts directly from various projects.
Sources said that Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) of MCI is currently collecting revenue from four main projects on its own.
These projects include G-9 bus stand, parking site adjacent to Centaurs Mall, Shakarparian parking and Damn-i-Koh parking fees. Besides, DMA ran Diplomatic Shuttle Service until recently.
Officials say that some elements are beneficiary of self-collection system and they don’t want to do transparent auction, therefore, for one reason or the other they have been delaying the auction.
While sharing the details of the projects, the officials said that DMA had been running the shuttle service until recently and earned a ‘nominal’ revenue.
The bus service was launched after 9/11 as a security measure by the then federal government and the entry of private vehicles in Diplomatic Enclave, housing embassies, was banned.
The visa seekers and visitors were asked to use the shuttle service and they were supposed to pay Rs500 for bus and Rs1,000 for car to enter the Diplomatic Enclave.
The Diplomatic Enclave is located on Constitution Avenue and easily approachable from various sides but people were not allowed to enter the area directly.
In the past, the DMA earned millions of rupees per month from the contractor of the shuttle service. However, the project has been facing controversies for the last few years due to a dispute between contractors and DMA on certain issues.
In March 2020, the DMA auctioned the site against Rs102.6 million per year. However, the contractor defaulted that led the DMA to take over the site in December 2020.
The DMA was part of CDA but after formation of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) it was placed under the administrative control of the latter.
An official of DMA said the project is being dubbed as a “money machine” for corrupt elements but it was a big burden on the visitors to the Diplomatic Enclave.
“This is a big injustice with citizens who are forced to pay Rs500 and Rs1,000 for a small distance. This project should be winded up and people should be allowed to move into the enclave freely,” he said.
The official added that a couple of years ago the Senate Standing Committee on Interior had directed the MCI to end the shuttle service and allow citizens to enter the enclave freely but “no heed was paid to the public welfare directive of the standing committee.”
There are reports that only a meagre amount was deposited in the exchequer during the last 13 months. So, for the purpose of transparency the figure of the amount collected by the DMA should be made public,” said an official of the MCI.
Similarly, officials said that G-9 bus stand, which was last time auctioned for Rs70 million per year, has been due for auction from May last year but so far the DMA seems uninterested in auctioning the site rather it has been focusing on self-collection.
Meanwhile, auction of parking site adjacent to Centaurs Mall is also lying pending for the last six months. Last time, this site was auctioned for Rs90 million per year.
Similarly, the auction of parking sites of Shakarparian and Damn-i-Koh has also been pending for the last several months and DMA is currently collecting parking fee on its own.
Director Finance Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICT) Ali Asghar, who also served as director DMA until recently and currently holding the charge of Chief Metropolitan Officer (CMO), could not be approached for his comments.
However, when contacted, director DMA Shakil Arshad said that he could not explain the reasons for self-collection.
“I recently joined the DMA and let me assure you we are going to auction three sites (G-9 bus stand, Shakarparian parking and parking adjacent to Centaurs) in coming days to end the culture of self-collection,” he said and added that recently the diplomatic shuttle service had been handed over to a contractor.
“The shuttle service is being run by contractor for the last few weeks. I was told that due to litigation the DMA was doing self-collection,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022