More troubles for BRT Peshawar project

Auditor General raised serious objections on BRT Peshawar

BRT Peshawar was launched by the PTI KPK government as a flagship project before the general elections 2018. The PTI provincial government has so far given many deadlines for the completion of this project- but work is still going on. Many reports have appeared in the media in which serious allegations were raised regarding faulty design-expensive contracts and corrupt practices.

Now the latest report of Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has raised the similar kind of objections and pointed out irregularities.  The report pointed out that project’s planning was faulty and construction work started in the absence of detailed engineering design.

This report has shown that how the PTI government led by then Chief Minister KPK Pervaiz Khattak started this important project without proper planning and preparation. The government tried to complete the project in haste to get political advantage.

So many technical issues were ignored in the execution of the project. The poor planning and execution increased the total cost of the project. This report is a clear charge sheet against the KPK government. The billions of rupees were wasted and lost in the process. Many irregularities were committed due to haste and poor planning.  

The report also pointed out that Asian Development Bank (ADB) had well in time identified the risk that “political pressure to fast-track the project due to General Elections 2018 will undermine both design and implementation of the project”.
The report said, “With regard to the projects undertaken during the BRT Corridor Preliminary Design and later on during the Detailed Engineering Design (DED) stages, the audit observation was justified to term all expenditure wasteful which resulted from lack of vision in the planning process.”

The report pointed out unauthorized variations of Rs10.4 billion; loss of Rs200 million due to payment of excess quantity of pile concrete. The loss of Rs 54.8 million due to non-recovery of cost of dismantled material; payment of Rs 95 million as salaries without approved pay structure; non-deposit of profit worth Rs 12 million into government treasury earned from saving account.

The unauthorized payment of Rs 45 million to officers; interest worth Rs 12 million earned not reflected in financial statement; contradiction in approved PC-I and business model regarding annual subsidy of Rs 1.6 billion; wasteful expenditure of Rs 716 million on beautification, construction of roads and electrification.
The premature procurement of BRT buses spending US$ 7.9 million; the warranty period of these buses may expire as well as wear and tear will occur with no fare revenue from these buses; loss of Rs 10 million due to depreciation of buses waiting to be brought on road; construction supervision contract worth Rs 615 million and US$1.97 million awarded without fulfilling the criteria for performance assessment; non-implementation of penalty/liquidated damages worth Rs1.9 billion etc.

An email extract of December 2016 shared with the auditors indicated that ADB did not want the DED (Detailed Engineering Design) to be developed on the basis of the preliminary design.” Lack of planning was further evident from the fact that in its aide-memoire dated 25th September 2017, the ADB had stated that while the DED was still under-preparation, the provincial government somehow got the original PC-I approved well below the ADB estimates of USD 587 million.

 Likewise the preliminary design, the report said, the DED consultants were also not allowed appropriate completion time which is normally allowed for detailed engineering designing of the projects of such magnitude.
The DED contract starting in Feb 2017 was supposed to be completed in Feb 2018 but due to unnecessary urgency imposed on the project, the civil works were initiated in November 2017 when complete designs were not even available.
According to the loan agreement between the ADB and the government, the project is expected to be completed by June 2021. However, unrealistic completion deadlines were given in disregard of the ADB apprehensions. The initial cost of the project as approved was Rs49.34 billion which was later revised to Rs 66.4 billion.
PTI leaders including Prime Minister Imran Khan take credit to bring in a clean administration and government. He also claimed to have maximum transparency in the projects. This report by AGP needs serious consideration from PM Imran khan. An independent inquiry must be conducted to fix the responsibility of losses and wastage of billions of rupees.
                                                              Khalid Bhatti

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