Capital’s new airport project in a mess

  • Opening to be postponed due to delay in the project because of regime changes, escalating costs
  • Blue-eyed contractor alleged of receiving ‘special treatment’ from power group in CAA
  • Project director denies allegations of corruption against contractor, says no one including any contractor could commit any irregularity in his presence


While the inauguration date of Islamabad’s new Airport is around the corner, the construction work of the airport is marred by frequent transfers of project directors and allegations of corruption by the contractors backed by a powerful lobby in Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Pakistan Today has learnt.

As per the deadline given by the prime minister, the seven-year-old project is supposed to open on March 23, 2015.

While new airport project has been in problems since its start in 2007 but at the moment it is heading towards a financial disaster because of unnecessary intervention of Aviation Division, which is siding with a resourceful contractor of the project, the sources in the CAA have revealed.

The construction of the airport started in April 2007 with an initial cost estimate of Rs 38 billion during the former president Musharraf regime and the official figure of cost as quoted by the CAA has now surged to Rs 85 billion.

Earlier, the CAA had predicted that the airfield would be opened for operation in 2014, however, delay in the project due to regime changes and escalating cost of the project further delayed the project until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit in March this year to the site said the work should be completed before March 2015.

The sources believe that at the moment all the indicators suggest that connivance of Aviation Division higher ups with the contractor will result in the project cost being escalated well beyond Rs 100 billion.

The powerful lobby in the Aviation Division of the CAA, not only got removed the previous project director Brig Mushtaq who was known to be an honest officer but the same lobby has also forced the newly appointed project director Pervaiz Hayat to comply with the wishes of the influential contractor. Moreover, the authority of DG Civil Aviation has been curtailed significantly and all decisions, mostly favouring the contractor are being dictated by the Aviation Division, the sources further revealed.

“Such is the influence of the contractor that those Civil Aviation employees who are resisting the controversial decisions are feared to be removed from the project in next few days,” said a source privy to the developments in CAA.

“The influential contractor has recently been paid Rs 33 million against all rules and regulations. However, it is only the tip of the iceberg as the planning has been done to facilitate the contractor in issuing of “taking over certificate” of one of the contracts without safeguarding the interest of the project which is likely to create legal difficulties for the project in future and result in hefty payments to contractor who has already been paid over Rs 4 billion on bogus claims allegedly,” the source further said on anonymity.

It has also been reported that cracks have been developed on the runway due to faulty work of the contractor and efforts are being made to issue “taking over certificate” so that contractor does not get penalised for the substandard work and ultimately the CAA bears the cost of expensive repair of the runway cracks. The investigation report regarding cause of cracks by an eminent geo technical expert is being hushed up to save the contractor from blame.

In a letter addressed to the prime minister, National Assembly Opposition Leader Syed Khurshid Shah has pointed out towards a number of basic flaws in the project.

The opposition leader has written that there was no ground water available in the project even 1000 feet below the surface of earth. He has also questioned the mushroom growth of private housing societies around the new airport which according to him will pose serious security threat to the new airport.

However, Brig (r) Pervez Hayat, Project Director of the new airport, while talking to Pakistan Today, said that the issue of non-availability of ground water has been addressed by starting work on two rain water dams and contract for the assignment has been given to the Small Dams Organisation.

He said that the issue of water took a backward slide when the Punjab government stepped back from its commitment to pay for the water arrangement already agreed with the Shahpur Dam management situated close to the airport site.

“We are doing our part of work with efficiency but there are certain responsibilities like provision of water and electricity which lie with the government and we hope that the government will take care of it,” he further said.

The project director said that the deadline of March 23 set by the prime minister was only related to the civil works while a lot of work on other project areas is still in progress.

“As for as the operational date of new airport is concerned, it will be somewhere in October, 2016 as the work on installations for the provision of water and electricity is still underway,” Hayat said.

On the matter of cracks on run way, the project director insisted that it was not a big issue and it was not a failure of anybody but such things can happen normally.

The project director also denied the allegations of corruption against the contractor and said that he was a professional engineer himself being conversant with the technicalities of the construction work and no one including any contractor could commit any irregularity in his presence.
























  1. Culprits should be ashamed of themselves for looting the country they claim to love so much!
    Perhaps the recently established ATCs should also be used to target these contractors and their sponsors taking kick-back as their actions are just as bad as those murdering innocent citizens

  2. Unfortunately the corruption a t this project started just at the stage of Land acquisition. Generals, Air marshals, Bureaucrats from various ministries were competing for minting money from this project as at others. The consultants were changed rapidly, new selected were pressurized for hiring the people at their will, Corrupt CAA were involved in Project and construction management of this important Air port. No regulations were applied during contract awards. This Project is well settled example of corruption in which our country is dragging. The renowned and professional consultants were ousted and replaced with corrupt people. All examples are depicting the status of the Project.

Comments are closed.