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Continued Irregularities – LDA starts projects without floating tenders

Initiates Rs 2.8m development works at cricket grounds without publicising project; LDA official claims LDA high-ups have ganged up to blacken CM’s name

LAHORE – Trampling Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s top manifesto to ensure transparency in all development works, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) high-ups have started development works at cricket grounds without opening tenders costing Rs 2.8 million. The LDA defied the rules despite the fact that the CM’s inspection team is at the final stage of preparing a fact-finding report to nip the mafia involved in violation of tenders. “The show of disobedience indicates that the LDA top officials have ganged up against the CM to blot his name and performance regarding good governance and transparency by infringing tender rules,” senior official in LDA Engineering Branch told Pakistan Today.

THE RULES: As per the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority PPRA rules, the pre-qualification process cannot be legitimised without publicising development projects. However, LDA Chief Engineer Abdul Rab started development works to reconstruct four walls, erect iron fences and rooms for players at the cricket grounds without seeking tenders to hire the services of a suitable firm.

SETTING UP A FAKE SHOW: An official of the Engineering Branch said, “The LDA chief engineer has set April 16 for opening the tender to stage a fake show to give a legal cover to the process.” He said, “It is amazing to note that the development will complete before the tendering process.”

IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE: An LDA Administration Branch official said that the LDA has been habitual to flout the rules. Last time, without floating the tenders and seeking prequalification process, the LDA constructed One Window Cell at LDA’s Johar Town office at a cost of Rs 25.5 million. LDA (ADI I) Director Ijaz Kosar admitted that one window was constructed without issuing tenders but claimed that the procedure was regularised by completing the tendering procedure later on.

Last year, LDA also broke tendering rules and regulations against development projects of million of rupees, incurring financial damages to the national exchequer by hiring around 40 private firms through pre-qualification process without publicising any development projects for Johar Town, Faizal Town, Sabzazar and other projects.

ILLEGAL FIRM HIRING: The LDA issued tenders for various development projects on November 3, but deferred the date informing the contractors to resume the process after Eid Ul Azha. Surprisingly, tenders opened on November 8 in connivance with LDA Engineering Branch and representative of contractor association. Tenders were given to those contractors who were taken on board already by illegal pre-qualification process. So much so, these contracts were awarded on four percent extra cost of total expenditure of development projects.

INQUIRIES AGAINST LDA OFFICIALS: An official in the CM secretariat told Pakistan Today that the CM snubbed former LDA DG Umer Rasool, angering over the irregularities and ordered for making all tenders invalid. He also ordered him to re-issue the tenders, meeting rules and regulations, and warned him of repeating such blunders. According to sources, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is also conducting an inquiry in which LDA Chief Engineer Abdul Rab has been accused of hiring unregistered firms to demolish high-rising buildings.

LDA Engineering Branch Director Saeed Akhtar was also brought in the dock in the case. The CM also had FIR registered against him on substandard construction of Syed Mittah Hospital and the director was jailed. However, Saeed Akhtar went abroad on leave for indefinite period. After the situation boiled down, he returned and was posted as an additional chief engineer.

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