PHC notes initial cost of Rs49.3b soares to Rs67.9b; NAB ordered to submit report on Sept 24
The Peshawar High Court on Thursday ordered the National Accountability Bureau to probe the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project, which it termed “shady and shaky”. A division bench comprising Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth and Justice Mussarat Hilali, announcing its judgment in the much-trumpeted case, directed NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to probe alleged irregularities in the project, which has been marred by one delay after another.
The court directed the anti-graft body to investigate why the BRT project was not completed on time and why its costs escalated. The deadline for completion of the BRT project has been delayed several times. The first deadline was April 20, which was extended by a month to May 20. The then-project director had told media that the civil work would be completed by June 20, which was also missed.
Earlier this month, NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa asked the Peshawar Development Authority to submit record of the mega project, after NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal ordered an inquiry into alleged corruption and delay in completion of the BRT project. The high court issued the detailed order almost seven months after it had allowed the authorities to continue to work on the project but submit reports on the project’s progress.
“After hearing the arguments at great length, we feel it’s appropriate to refer the matter to NAB authorities for conducting proper investigation due to the fact that 50 per cent scope of the work has been enhanced,” the court order stated. The PHC, in its detailed verdict, observed that the BRT project was awarded to a firm that was blacklisted in another province, and that the project stood incomplete as of June 24.
“The delay, the contract awarding process, feasibility and all the issues relating to the Peshawar Sustainable Bus Rapid Transit Corridor Project are all shady and shaky,” the order said. Moreover, the court noted that the project was initially projected to cost Rs49.3b but the figures eventually soared to Rs67.9 billion. “We have been informed that from different necessary project schemes, the amount has been allocated for this project without considering the fact that other projects were also necessary and important for public purpose,” the verdict adds. The court directed the NAB authorities to complete their probe and submit its findings in the next hearing, scheduled to he held on September 24.