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Cold war between Ravi Town Nazim, TMO delays projects :Lahore

ALLEGATIONS of corruption against the town Nazim by the town municipal officer (TMO) and counter allegations of political victimisation by the former have resulted in delay of 126 road development schemes worth Rs 50 million at Ravi Town affecting hundreds of thousands of its residents.

The tug-of-war between TMO Ahmed Kamal and Town Nazim Yousaf Ahad started soon after the posting of the former some months back. The ongoing cold war between the two is resulting in delay in the start of development projects.

Last month, the Ravi Town TMO, following the allegations of kickbacks, cancelled tenders of 126 development schemes worth Rs 50 million and asked the Lahore commissioner to inquire into the matter.

The town Nazim also wrote a letter to the Punjab Local Government secretary for transferring the TMO, terming him a permanent nuisance for the town administration. He, in his letter, said that the TMO was inefficient and did not bother to come to his office or come so late that there was hardly any other government office open.

The Nazim, in his letter, also alleged that various citizens had levelled serious allegations of corruption against the TMO, especially regarding the process of sanctioning of building plans. He said he had also sent a reference against the TMO to the Anti-Corruption Establishment. The town Nazim further wrote: “the officer is disobedient and, despite various letters of the undersigned, he has failed to discharge his duties, powers and functions in accordance with the law and also was not taking the office of the town Nazim in confidence over various administrative issues.”

The situation in the town further heated up on March 26, 2009, when the Ravi Town TMO cancelled the tenders of 126 schemes and wrote a letter to the Lahore commissioner, stating that the tenders were being sold instead of being given on merit.

Sources maintained that the TMO, in his letter to the Lahore commissioner, said that the contractors had quoted non-competitive rates because they had been assured by an influential that the tenders would be given to them. They said the TMO had also received several complaints from different contractors regarding demands of kickbacks.

Sources said the Ravi Town administration had planned to issue tenders for 126 schemes, majority of which included soling and construction of roads. They said the schemes were planned to be completed through the funds of Rs 50 million from the Annual Development Programme (ADP).

They said that all the schemes were verified and cleared by the local MPAs and MNA but at that time the issue of Shahbaz Sharif’s disqualification cropped up due to which the local MPAs and MNA asked the TMA to defer the tenders. Meanwhile, Shahbaz government was suspended and the tenders were floated.

Sources said some three days before the opening of tenders, the TMO Ravi Town came to know that Muneeb, the PS of the Ravi Town Nazim and Yousaf Bhai, a close relative of the Nazim, were sitting in the Nazim’s office and finalising deals with the contractors.

They claimed that the next day, the Ravi Town TMO talked to the Lahore commissioner who asked him to report the entire matter in writing, which he did. The commissioner appointed two officials, Ikram and Amir Shafique, to supervise the opening of the tenders.

The tenders were opened in the presence of the said two officials and the Ravi Town TMO. Sources said after the opening of tenders, it was brought to the team’s notice that necessary documentation regarding the registration and issuance of tender documents was incomplete. The TMO asked the contractors to complete their documents within the next three hours but they failed, they said, adding that after opening of the tenders, it was revealed that all the tenders contained non-competitive rates. The TMO refused to award the tenders and asked the contractors to lower their rates but they refused and the TMO cancelled all the tenders.

Sources in the CDGL said that as a general practice, the contractors were giving around 40 to 50 per cent as bribe to different people in a town to get a tender. They said the contractors were giving 12 per cent at the acceptance, 10 per cent on submission of bill, 12 per cent at the start of work and 10 per cent to different officials of smaller ranks.

When contacted, the Ravi Town TMO said he had cancelled the tenders due to non-competitiveness and the incomplete documentation and registration of tenders. Over a question about the abovementioned scenario, he said he had written a detailed letter to the Lahore commissioner.

On the other hand, the Ravi Town Nazim said all the contractors had quoted competitive rates, alleging that the TMO cancelled tenders because the contractors refused to give him any underhand deal. He said he had nothing to do with the opening of tenders or registration of tender documents and all such allegations that he, directly or indirectly, was trying to award contracts were baseless.

The Nazim further said that the TMO was not consulting him on any issue, which was a clear violation of the Rules of Business of the local bodies’ laws as well as the directive of the Lahore commissioner.

He said the malafide intention of the TMO could be judged from the fact that at one hand, he said tender documents were not complete but on the other hand he opened the tenders and gave three hours to the contractors to streamline the documents. He said another important this was that till today (April 07, 2009) he had not received any official information from the TMO regarding cancellation of tenders.

Source: The News

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