–Court calls PTI govt ‘visionless’ for concentrating ADB loans into single project without any prior feasible study
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to launch a probe into Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) project and submit a report to the court within 45 days so that appropriate action could be taken.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, ruled this after hearing multiple petitions filed by the residents on Friday.
In its order, the court called the PTI government “visionless” for concentrating the money loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in just one project. The verdict said the government took up the project without any “feasibility study” to determine its economic, financial and technical viability.
The cost of the transport corridor was also increased from Rs49.453 billion in 2017 to Rs66.437 billion in 2018, of which Rs53.320 was take in the form of a loan from the ADB.
The project was to be completed in six months, due to a political announcement by the provincial government. This lead to the project being designed in haste and created many errors, Justice Seth wrote. In addition, the “per kilometer cost of the BRT is Rs2.427 billion, which is exorbitantly high.”
The court also observed that senior officers of the provincial government, namely the additional chief secretary and the commissioner of the Peshawar division were enjoying hefty allowances despite having non-managerial roles.
“The PC-1 contains lavish salaries for non-project staff like additional chief secretary and principal secretary to the chief minister, who don’t even have direct roles in the bus project,” the order read. Even the consultants pocketed hefty salaries, which the court called a “sheer waste of government’s money.”
Earlier, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had decided to approach the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to conduct a forensic audit of the BRT project which has fallen massively short on its development targets, achieving only mere six per cent progress in the past six months.
Meanwhile, the government was likely to revise PC-1 of the BRT project on the pretext of account adjustment. It may be noted here that the KP government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has failed to complete the metro bus project and has missed at least six deadlines in this regard.