–PHC bench orders anti-graft watchdog to investigate delays in project’s completion, escalation in cost
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit Corridor (BRT) Project, terming it “shady and shaky”.
The high court issued the detailed order almost seven months after it had allowed the provincial government 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 issued by a two-judge bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth and Justice Mussarat Hilali 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 (BRT) Project are all shady and shaky,” the order said.
Moreover, the court noted that the project was initially projected to cost Rs49.3bn 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.
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 (r) Javed Iqbal ordered an inquiry into alleged corruption and delay in completion of the BRT project.