A parliamentary panel on Wednesday questioned the selection of National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) as consultant for the twin cities’ metro bus project without inviting proposals from firms interested in competing for it.
Nespak Managing Director Amjad Ali Khan informed the Public Accounts Committee that the project had been awarded on the basis of the work they had carried out for the Lahore Metro Bus.
Nespak was selected as consultant, bypassing the competitive bidding process. The firm will charge over Rs1.1 billion for the design, construction and supervision of the route for the metro bus. The figure includes salaries of employees working on the project plus 10 per cent profit.
“Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules were amended to allow outsourcing a complex project to a public sector organisation without following the competitive process,” Khan said. The ‘complex project’ involves planning a 28-kilometre road which is supposed to be completed within a year’s time.
Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) planning wing had sent another reminder to Nespak, Lahore, on February 28, asking them to address their reservations over the route alignment plan for Islamabad.
If implemented, the plan forwarded by Nespak will destroy two well-planned avenues of the city and its distinct green character, said a senior CDA official.
The plan envisages the expansion of 9th Avenue and Jinnah Avenue beyond the limits permissible in the capital’s Master Plan and the elimination of a green belt located east of Agha Shahi Avenue, commonly known as 9th Avenue and west of sectors I-8, H-8 and G-8, stretching over hundreds of acres.
CDA officials said the route’s designing was flawed and they had taken up these issues with the Nespak. According to the plan, IJP-bound existing carriageway of 9th Avenue will be converted as a dedicated corridor for the metro bus, while an additional three lanes will be carved out from the green belt along 9th Avenue to accommodate the traffic coming towards IJP Road from Kashmir Highway.
The CDA objected to the plan stating that Nespak could utilise the 7.2 metre-wide central median of 9th Avenue, instead of destroying the green belt.
“In line with international standards, seven-metre width is enough to carve out two lanes,” the member said. He said instead of incorporating the suggestion, Nespak informed the CDA in writing that “plans to this effect has already been finalised.”
The official said Islamabad’s Master Plan not only provides for conservation of greenbelts but also identifies greenbelts on both sides of 9th Avenue.
“Jinnah Avenue will be widened up to six metres on both sides,” states the plan. This entails destroying the green median on both sides of the road, while a dedicated corridor for the metro bus will also eat up the emergency lanes on both sides of Jinnah Avenue.
“We have suggested that the route pass through Ibn-e-Sina Road instead of Jinnah Avenue. It can then pass through Fazl-e-Haq Road and enter Jinnah Avenue to reach at its final destination, Pak Secretariat,” the official said.
“The Master Plan of Islamabad also identifies the same route to facilitate commuters to Pims and Sector G-8.”
A CDA official said Nespak officials designed the route while sitting in their Lahore office without conducting pre-feasibility or feasibility studies.
Nespak manager for the project Danish Raza said Nespak was finalising the route alignment in consultation with the CDA. Raza shifted the responsibility of designing the route to the CDA, saying it purely related to the civic agency and that Nespak was only suggesting possible routes.
Raza declined to answer several questions, saying he was not allowed to talk to the media.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2014.