HARIPUR: Foreign consultant firm of Tarbela 5th hydropower project (T5 HPP) has formally announced suspension of its services after developing dispute with Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) over payment of dues, according to sources.

However, Wapda sources were confident that they were well-placed in placating the consultants to not to discontinue their services, which were scheduled to come to end on June 16, 2024, as per the termination notice received to the office of project director.

According to documents, Tarbela 5th Extension Project Consultants (T5C), a consortium of Mott Macdonald England and MM Pakistan was awarded the contract as consultant of T5 hydropower project. T5C signed an agreement with Wapda on April 13, 2019 and work on the 1,530 megawatts project was kicked off in August 2021.

The project’s completion timeline, according to Wapda, was fixed as May 2026.

In a letter, written to chief engineer on the official letterhead pad of Mott Macdonald on May 17, Mark Gill, the project manager of T5C, referred to the relevant clauses of the agreement between the consortium and Wapda and highlighted reasons for termination of services.

“We issued to you a notice of non-payment on March 14, 2024, in respect of several unpaid invoices, which in accordance with clause 19.1.3(a) required you to pay within 45 days. No payment was received for the invoices by this date and no dispute was raised by you in accordance with clause 49.1 of the agreement,” said the letter.

Wapda official confident of placating the foreign company

Referring to the conditions of agreement, the project manager of T5C stated that the termination of contract would take place on June 16. He said that the consultants would take all necessary steps to bring the services to a close and prompt and orderly manner and would make every reasonable effort to keep expenditures for the purpose to minimum.

According to official sources, the consultant firm has more than 100 workers engaged in supervision of the project. They will also get sacked if the consultants don’t agree to withdraw notice of termination of services.

However, a senior Wapda official, who confirmed the contents of Mr Mark Gill’s letter, was confident of winning back the hearts of foreign consultants.

“Although their concerns are about delayed payments and giving notice of termination is their right, yet I am very much confident that after a couple of parleys Wapda would succeed in placating them to withdraw notice and continue services,” he said.

To a question, he brushed aside the notion that the termination notice had any serious effect on the project’s completion time.

Another senior officer said that Wapda House was not at ease with the consultants over their heavy expenses and had raised the objections time and again, asking them to control their expenses as the country was already undergoing a financial crunch.

Waseem Raza, the chief engineer and project director, when contacted, declined to comment on the issue. Anwar Hussain, the general manager of Tarbela hydropower project, did not attend telephone calls.

World Bank is providing $390 million and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank $300 million for the project.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2024

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