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Building airports: CAA affairs

April 18, 2013

THE Civil Aviation Authority has built two international airports — Jinnah International Airport in Karachi and Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore.

The CAA project directors ensured that the consultants appointed go by the book. It is on record that for that gigantic task not a single chief operations transition adviser (COTA) was appointed.

An advertisement by the CAA appeared in Dawn on March 31 to induct two COTAs for the two mega projects -- New Benazir Bhutto International Airport (NBBIAP) at Islamabad and Multan — to oversee and coordinate not only the activities of the project but also operational readiness, leading to smooth transition from project execution to successful operational status.

The aspirant candidates must be postgraduate or equivalent from a recognised institute, whereas the requirement is that of engineer. The criteria appear to be tailor-made to suit ex-air force officers. Interestingly, note (g) of the advertisement says that government servants/employees of autonomous bodies/corporations, including CAA employees, should send their applications through proper channel. It defeats the very purpose of the advertisement. Why not appoint a senior engineer from the CAA?

Both the projects are nearing completion and the CAA has appointed project management consultants, M/s Louis Berger for NBBIAP and M/s ECIL for Multan at a hefty consultation fee. It is their responsibility to ensure smooth transition of both the projects to the satisfaction of the CAA director of projects.

Some time ago a post of chief coordinator for mega projects was created to accommodate ex-DG of the CAA whose contract was terminated prematurely but it was opposed by the ministry of defence. After a few months, the same coordinator was made the DG of the CAA.

Pakistan is a poor country and no one has the right to waste poor people’s money in creating superfluous appointments. For eg, some time ago an ex-PAF air commodore was appointed IT consultant at an exorbitant salary and perks without completing codal formalities for which there was no justification. It is hoped that the caretaker prime minister would take notice of such irregularities and extravagance.

M. AHMED Karachi