Alleged culprits involved in massive corruption manage a ‘stay-order’

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Inquiry ordered by mayor cum CDA chief into the alleged corruption, use of substandard material, post-bid design changes, and awarding of Rs50 million bonus money for completing the project within the deadline of Islamabad Expressway completion has been subjected to a ‘stay-order’ from the Islamabad High Court.

Initially, the inquiry committee was given 15 days to conclude in November 2016.

Inquiry into the substandard construction of I-8 interchange which was completed at a cost of Rs1.2 billion under the Prime Minister’s Special Package in 2016 was ordered but the accused managed a stay order from the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

“There was an inquiry ordered by me in November over the alleged corruption and used of substandard material, but the accused officers went to the court and got a stay order, so the authority was left with no option,” said Mayor cum CDA Chief, Sheikh Anser Aziz.

“I got surprised when I got to know that the authority had given bonus money of five percent of Rs1.2 billion (Rs60 million), it raised my eyebrows. This scandal needs a free and fair inquiry,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the accused of corruption in Islamabad Expressway project was suspended along with three others by the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) over the non-fulfillment of their assigned duties regarding installation of street lights inside sectors and fixing the out of order street lights on the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

In January, then Member Engineering Shahid Sohail, Director General Engineering and Maintenance Sohail Anjam, Director Engineering and Maintenance Asif Jah and Deputy Director Street Lights Irfan Khokar were suspended.

When Sheikh Anser was questioned about the flawed design of the interchange and the use of substandard construction material, he said, “Over these allegations, I held an inquiry to get a clear picture. The inquiry will be conducted on merit and if anything wrong is detected, strict action will be taken against the responsible officials,” he said.

It was also noted that the project completion entered in the records of the civic agency was January 2016; however, the deadline for the completion of the project was December 2015.

Sources privy to the development confided Pakistan Today that the engineering wing of the CDA had allegedly made post-bid design changes to the interchange on the Islamabad Expressway.

The exits that bring traffic from both sides of I8 interchange into the sector are aligned in such a way that they create serious traffic jams at the point of merger.

The officials also said that as per the original PC-I, there was a mechanically fitted earth wall but the engineering wing replaced it by a simple wall and filled its sides with gravels. One of the consultants of the project, through a letter, also raised objections to the CDA move to make changes to the design in the expansion of the expressway from Zero Point to Faizabad, including the interchange.

Sources said that contrary to the PC-1, the civic agency also made changes to the design of the road in which the width of the shoulder -fifth lane used for emergency vehicles- was also reduced from ten feet to seven feet.

Director General Services Najeebur Rehman, director security and the director urban planning were nominated for an inquiry into the said matter.

The committee was said to investigate the role of officers who scrutinised the tenders and awarded the contract of the interchange. They were also assigned to conduct a physical inspection to take a stock check and determine the factual position.

The committee was also directed to verify whether or not genuine Philips lights and equipment were installed on the interchange as mentioned in the tender documents. The committee was to identify the role of officers and responsible directorate of the CDA for any negligence or element of corruption. The committee was given 15 days to complete its task. However, following the tradition, first, they lingered on the matter and allegedly, they were given favour of a delay in time so they brought stay orders and hence, the matter could be pushed under the rug.

CDA spokesman Mazhar Hussain confirmed that an inquiry had been ordered by the CDA chief. “There were complaints about the project that’s why the chairman has ordered the inquiry,” he said. He stated that if anything wrong was proved, strict action would be taken against the guilty officials.