Monday March 20, 2023

KP govt fails to renovate Arbab Niaz Stadium in four years

December 15, 2022

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government has failed to upgrade Arbab Niaz International Cricket Stadium in four years.

The initial cost has doubled and reached around Rs2 billion, but there is no prospect of completion of the work any time soon. The C&W Department has refused to complete the project by June 2023 in the absence of funds. The 27-month project took nearly 57 months to complete and only 75 percent of the civil works were completed. While 25 percent of the work remains, the cost of the project is likely to increase further.

A report submitted in September 2022 by the monitoring and evaluation section of the Planning and Development Department said that the contractor and consultant were unqualified and they were responsible for the delay and incurring huge losses. The report also revealed serious irregularities in the project.

Merit was ignored while awarding the contract, the report said.

According to the record available to this scribe, the stadium renovation was initiated on October 18, 2018, and the completion date was November 24, 2021. The KP government approved the PC-1 project for Rs1,377.878 million, but the stadium upgrade was still incomplete. The department concerned has moved a revised PC-1 to increase the cost from Rs1,377.878 million to Rs1,946.15 million. The same revised PC-1 was approved, and the new date for completion was fixed for December 2022.

In response to this correspondent’s RTI request, the C&W official stated that the new completion date was June 30, 2023, but this was subject to fund availability. The total amount paid to contractors is Rs1,156.425 million.

“It is worth mentioning that due to the flood, only meager funds have been released to the C&W department and, as a result, the project has badly suffered. If the balance funds are not released in time, it would not be possible to complete the project within the current financial year till June 2023,” he said in a written reply. He said the date of commencement in the original PC-1 was October 18, 2021, and the completion date was November 24, 2021, but the project was not completed for unforeseen reasons. The date of completion was fixed as June 30, 2023 in the revised PC-1, but funds were not released accordingly.

An official of the KP Sports Board told this correspondent that the construction was delayed because of design issues. Lights and digital scoreboard contracts were signed and then cancelled. According to Mushtaq Ahmad, Secretary of Sports in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, the project was initially approved by PDWP on September 20, 2017, for Rs1,377.878 million, and administrative approval was issued on January 2, 2018. Furthermore, a work order to the contractor was issued on April 4, 2018, with a 27-month completion period.

He said that the services of the Associates in Development had been hired, who designed the project, prepared estimates, and were also engaged in the supervision of its execution. On March 31, 2021, revised approval was accorded for Rs46.150 million. Now the scheme is in the final stages. Mushtaq Ahmad said that the major dismantling involved making a new structure, due to which considerable time was lost. The allocation in the first year was too meager. The design of the main stadium was unique and adopted for the first time in Pakistan, which required special work at a height of 64 ft, which affected the pace of work.

“Several imported items were proposed by the consultant as per international standards, which have to be imported and require significant time for production and shipment,” he said. The sports secretary said COVID-19 badly affected the pace of work for more than six months. The original scope of work for the stadium was designed to rehab the existing standard. However, the department enhanced its capacity by introducing second-level seating. The consultant was required to change the scope of work, which also affects the pace of work. It is worth noting that the only international stadium built in the province, also known as Shahi Bagh Stadium, was completed in November 1984. The stadium has hosted 17 ODIs since 1984 and six Test matches since 1995. The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government decided to upgrade the stadium to international standards in 2017 with all modern facilities for players, officials, journalists and audiences.