NAB initiates inquiry against Rs1.9bn Metropolitan Club

  • MCI, CDA already in a face-off over Kamran Lashari era club’s ownership

ISLAMABAD: It seems the fate of recently-inaugurated Metropolitan Club in F-9 Park is in doldrums as days after its inauguration, NAB Chairman Justice (rtd) Javed Iqbal has taken notice and directed NAB Rawalpindi Director General Irfan Mangi to initiate an inquiry into Rs 1.9 billion project.

In a press release, copy available with Pakistan Today, issued here on Monday, the NAB Headquarters has ordered NAB Rawalpindi director general to look into the matter of converting Citizens Club, a brainchild of former CDA chairman Kamran Lashari, into the Metropolitan Club after the local bodies’ election and transfer and bifurcation of directorates between MCI and CDA.

Furthermore, the press release mentions the conversion of the Citizen Club to the Metropolitan Club and decision of the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI)’s administration to take over possession of the Metropolitan Club as grounds on which NAB has decided to initiate the inquiry.

“NAB chairman has directed that inquiry must look into the matter that under what law the mayor has taken control of the Citizens Club administration and then decided to hand it over to a private firm,” the press release reads.

Even before the inauguration of the Metropolitan Club, the Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad and the Capital Development Authority had locked horns over the ownership, maintenance and possession of the project. Citizen Club (Metropolitan Club) Director Khalid Ahsan said that originally the project belonged to CDA.

However, after the bifurcation of powers, MCI claimed the club to be under its domain and the mayor inaugurated it on Saturday (March 31) with much fanfare. It is pertinent to mention that the Metropolitan Club, a project of around Rs 1.9 billion, is spread over an area of 22 acres with covered area of 265,000 square feet has been touted by city managers as an outstanding addition to the recreational and amusement facilities in the federal capital.

After the recent development of NAB’s inquiry coupled with CDA authorities preparations to go all out against MCI takeover, the future of the project looks bleak. Although the project had been inaugurated, it is yet to be opened for the general public and MCI was looking for interested private parties to operate it.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz said that MCI plans to outsource it to a private company for the operation and the management only. “It is not a business of the government to do business. We are appointing a financial consultant to hammer out the details, make a business plan, calculate our maintenance and business cost. We’ll ensure transparency at every stage,” he said.

When asked about the controversy related to the Metropolitan Club a renaming and rebranding of decade-old Citizens Club, the mayor said that although the project was old, it was he who took personal effort to complete it. “I’ve made multiple visits to the place, made sure that the building be rehabilitated and ensured that the project is completed and ready to be opened for the public at large,” he said.

To a query about whether there is any likelihood of future rifts between MCI and CDA related to ownership of the Metropolitan Club, he said that no such rift or difference was possible. “The Metropolitan Club was transferred on the orders of the prime minister. The order completely mentioned that it will be completed by the CDA and will be handed over to MCI,” he concluded.