NAB widens probe into Multan metro bus project, arrests six officers including project director

10:53 AM | 14 Sep, 2018
NAB widens probe into Multan metro bus project, arrests six officers including project director
MULTAN - The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested six officials, including the project director of the Multan Metro Bus Project (MMBP).

According to a press release issued by the body on Thursday, Project Director Sabir Khan Sadozai, executive engineers Amanat Ali and Riaz Hussain, sub-divisional officers Manzoor Ahmed and Rana Wasim and Munam Saeed were nabbed for which a physical remand will be requested from the NAB judge on Friday.

Sources close to the developments said the SDOs were arrested in the Multan Development Authority (MDA) building while others were summoned to the NAB regional office from where they were taken into custody.

Mr Sadozai was posted on deputation on the project by the Communications and Works Department in the MDA which was the executing agency of the project.

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He retired on in 2015 but was later appointed adviser (technical) from Oct 10, 2015 to June 30, 2016 with the salary and other benefits of an officer of BS-20 and the remuneration as per last pay, Dawn News reported.

The investigation into the alleged corruption in the mega project initiated in December 2017 on the direction of the NAB chairman, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal after the Senate Standing Committee on Finance forwarded the case to the accountability watchdog. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) did not provide the details of millions of dollars of the project that were illegally sent to China.

Initially, it was revealed that the money was sent to a Chinese company called Yabaite Techn­o­logy Company Limited which had links with Yabaite Pakistan Construction Group Private Limited.

The NAB collected the entire record related to the project after then Punjab government resisted; it estimated the embezzled amount to be Rs2 billion.

Before the construction, a survey was conducted to construct a 37-kilometre long route in two phases with an estimated cost of Rs35 billion. Later, it was decided that only first phase would be constructed at a cost of Rs28.37 billion, however, eyebrows were raised when Rs32 billion had been spent to complete the project.

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The cost of 35 articulated buses (for the metro route) and 100 feeder buses (for various city routes), installation of optical fibre, elevators, lights and other components were not included in the total cost of the project but these expenses were made through the Punjab Mass Transit Authority.

According to the details, nine firms participated in pre-qualification for nine packages and it was mutually decided that each firm would get one package which was done accordingly.

Osmani Company Private Limited did geometrical, architectural and structural design and construction supervision of the project, being the consulting firm.

In the bidding document for the procurement of consultancy service to conduct transport modelling and feasibility of mass transit system, the consultant was directed to keep the information relating to the project classified for 10 years after the expiration of the contract.

Sources privy to the developments said that in order to earn maximum profit, the safety of the passengers was ignored and the constructing firms reduced the width of the two-lane metro corridors to nine meters from 10 meters.

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Among other irregularities, a company which was hired for the provision of imported glass at metro stations used local glass and a probe was initiated by NAB Multan. The investigation was later shelved.

When the probe was launched then chief minister Shehbaz Sharif rejected allegations of corruption and challenged the rivals to probe a single penny of corruption.

The Imran Khan led federal cabinet has decided to carry out an audit of all the mass transit projects started under the Pakistan Muslim-League Nawaz government.

Multan Metro Bus Project

The Rs28b Multan Metro Bus project was inaugurated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in January. It includes 21 bus stations spread over an 18.5km route, which facilitate around 97,000 commuters daily.

The Chinese Securities and Regulatory Authority (CSRA) had launched an investigation into the funds transferred by the Chinese firm working on the project which showed them as profits gained from the project.

According to CSRA, the firm ‘YaBait’ transferred $10.75 million to China. CSRA then sought details from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

However, former-SECP chief Zafar Hijazi and advisors Muzaffar Mirza and Khalida Habib reportedly refused to share any information with the CSRA and eventually suppressed the matter.