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ISLAMABAD: Poor standard of construction has been found in a road project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Balochistan.
The Zhob-Mughalkot Road (N-50) has two packages and Package-I is being built by M/s Zahid Khan & Brothers (ZKB).
Maqbool Associates, which had submitted the lowest bid, won the contract, but the National Highway Authority (NHA) reportedly awarded it to ZKB, though the latter had offered comparatively higher rates, without asking it to match the lowest bid.
However, the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated the project in January 2016.
Moreover, it has been learnt that an 11km portion of the 41km Zhob-Killi Khudae Nazar road (Package-I) was badly damaged, while ditches and cracks had also appeared on its other portions.
As per NHA document, the 41km Zhob-Killi Khudae Nazar road was to be reconstructed by Limak-ZKB Joint Venture at a cost Rs4.8 billion under Package-I, and the 40km Killi Khudae Nazar-Mughalkot road by Maqbool-Zarghoon Joint Venture at cost of Rs4bn under Package-II.
Two separate projects had been simultaneously awarded for N-70. A firm, Umar Jan, will construct the road from Qilla Saifullah to Loralai at a cost Rs4.50bn under Package-I, while Maqbool-Zarghoon JV will construct the road from Loralai to Waigum Rud at a cost of Rs3.02bn under Package-II.
According to the NHA document, Maqbool-Zarghoon JV had submitted the lowest bids for all four projects, but it was not considered for Package-I of N-50 and Package-I of N-70 and the contracts had been awarded to the second lowest bidders (ZKB and Umar Jan). Even the second lowest bidders had not been asked to match the lowest bids.
Maqbool-Zarghoon JV has expressed concern over non-consideration of its bids and wrote many letters to the NHA, claiming that the contracts had been awarded ‘illegally’ to the second lowest bidders.
When contacted, an NHA spokesman said the project was under construction and had not yet been completed.
He said: “Such problems/damages do often happen during construction and its rectification remains the responsibility of the contractor/consultant. It is always ensured that all such issues are fully addressed before the project is completed and opened to traffic.”
He said the 81km long Zhob-Mughalkot project was divided into two lots and awarded to ZKB and Maqbool-Zarghoon JV, respectively. Maqbool-Zarghoon JV challenged the award of lot-1 in court where they lost the case and the Islamabad High Court upheld the NHA’s decision.
Although the issue caused a delay in execution of the project, the NHA has successfully managed to overcome unnecessary loss of time and the project was set to complete during 2018.