PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Inspection Team (PIT) has recommended legal action against the officials of Project Management Unit (PMU) of Peshawar Safe City Project for failing to perform their assigned duty, which delayed completion of the scheme by two and half years.

In March this year, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had directed PIT to conduct an inquiry into the safe city project and assign reasons for delay in its execution, fix responsibility for the undue delay and analyse the utilisation of financial resources by PMU.

The inquiry report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, said that faulty planning and bureaucratic red tape stymied progress on the crucial project, which was still a pipedream even a decade after initially being proposed in 2009.

The report said that the PMU of Peshawar Safe City project was established for a single specific purpose of carrying out the activities of the scheme with its director having full administrative and financial authority.

Inspection team report says faulty planning and bureaucratic red tape blocked progress on crucial project

“It was the responsibility of the project directors to have the PMU fully functional, but they failed to do so. Further, they have not proposed possible solutions to the problems that occurred in the project from time to time,” it said.

The PIT report said that not only the PMU failed to keep functional three committees formed to supervise different aspects of the project but also did not actively peruse the project activities.

“The PMU failed to perform its functions given in the approved PC-I. Resultantly, the project objectives could not be achieved even after the lapse of almost five years, which is double the initial time of two and half years,” it said.

In 2009, the federal government while considering the Islamabad Safe City Project, decided to extend it to Peshawar. “China was to provide soft loan at 2 per cent interest rate payable over 25 years with the condition that the project would be awarded to the Chinese firm Huawei,” said the report.

In 2014-15, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government allocated Rs1.5 billion and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) was selected as consultant for the preparation of PC-I. However, it could not complete the task, forcing the provincial government to set up the PMU in January 2017 at the home department. The PMU was shifted to police department in July 2017.

In June 2017, home department consultant selection committee did not proceed with opening of the received bids, recommending that the committee might be reconstituted with police chief as its head. In October, the project steering committee, headed by additional chief secretary, decided that home department should return the bids to the bidders and police department should float request for proposal to select consultants.

In 2018, provincial cabinet decided to hire as consultant National Engineering Service Pakistan (Nespak), which was lead consultant of Lahore Safe City Project. However, the hiring of Nespak could not materialise after it proposed joint venture with foreign companies, which were not allowed under the KP Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules.

In August 2019, another attempt was made to enlist the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) for the project.

A joint survey by PMU and PSCA identified 940 points across the city, where 3,500 surveillance cameras had to be installed at a cost of Rs19.19 billion.

In December 2020, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan ordered awarding the project to National Radio and Telecom Corporation. However, after about nine months, authorities figured out that NRTC was not competent enough to executive the scheme and instead decided to go for competitive bidding.

The report said that lack of involvement of the project’s steering, implementation and monitoring committees in its activities was also one of the reasons of the delay in its execution. Similarly, it said that non-recruitment of the relevant technical staff despite availability of posts and funds was also one of the reasons of delay in its completion.

It said that analysis of the detailed records revealed that the expenditures in respect of fuel were unjustified. Similarly, salaries for the vacant posts without revision of PC-I were not covered under law. “Moreover, the expenditure of Rs2.9 million for purchasing furniture only for five officials was unjustified,” it added.

Besides, the report said that equipment was also purchased at exorbitant rates. “Necessary action may be taken against the concerned staff of the PMU Peshawar Safe City Project for their omissions and commissions as detailed in the observation, findings and conclusion of this report,” it added.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2022

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