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July 13, 2018

Probe into underpass cost escalation begins


July 13, 2018

LAHORE: Serious allegations of cost escalation in the construction of Capt Mobin Shaheed Underpass, one of the fast track mega projects of the previous government, have surfaced forcing both Lahore Development Authority (LDA) as well as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate investigation.

Sources in LDA revealed that Caretaker Provincial Minister for Housing Saeed Ullah Baber recently held a meeting in LDA in which he revealed that cost escalation had been done in the construction of this underpass.

Sources said the minister, during the meeting claimed that the project was started at the cost of Rs170 million, which was escalated to Rs600 million. Sources said during the meeting, the minister was told that the actual tender cost of the project was Rs80 million and its final ending cost was Rs600 million.

Sources said Capt Mobin Shaheed Underpass was constructed to link Gulberg with Cantonment at Gurumangat Road and was completed in December 2017.

Former chief engineer LDA Israr Saeed, who became NAB’s approver in Ashiana Housing Scheme, executed this project. During the recent rain, the underpass drowned completely following the absence of a generator, sources said, adding LDA’s engineering wing also raised serious concerns over the design of this underpass. Sources also said that NAB has also asked LDA to submit complete details and documents of this project, including the bid documents, financial and technical evaluation of the project and etc.

The project was inaugurated by Khwaja Saad Rafique and he in his election campaign was claiming the credit for construction of this project in a very short span of time.

When contacted, LDA Chief Engineer Mazhar Khan admitted that LDA is investigating the allegations of cost escalation into this project. He said the inquiry was initiated on the directions of the caretaker provincial minister and a complete report will be submitted to the LDA Director General Amna Imran Khan in a couple of days.

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