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November 5, 2015

FIA probes devouring of Rs5b NHA funds

Lahore

November 5, 2015

LAHORE
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has started a probe into alleged embezzlement in National Highway Authority (NHA) Rs 5 billion project funds for the construction of roads, bridges, bus terminals and solar lights, etc. at N-5 GT Road from Kala Shah Kaku to Gujranwala, The News has learnt.
The Anti-Corruption Circle (ACC) of FIA, Lahore, launched the inquiry (No 85/15) into the case earlier this year.
Senior FIA officials seeking anonymity told The News that in 2006, the National Highway Authority had launched multi-billion project of road construction, additional/existing carriageway, under passes, bridges, maintenance of service roads and installment of solar lights at N-5 GT Road from Kala Shah Kaku to Gujranwala with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB). They said the contract was awarded to Husnain Cotex Construction Company.
According to them, the 50km-long project was to be completed in year 2010 with a cost of Rs5 billion but the same neither completed nor handed over to National Highway Authority due to non-completion and alleged embezzlement of funds. The officials claimed that due to delay in the completion of the work, the cost of the project gone up to Rs12 billion (estimated). They said to supervise and complete the project in time, the NHA authorities had established National Highway Improvement Programme (NHIP) and also appointed a project director.
It is learnt that the FIA investigators through a letter No Addl Dir/FIA/ACC/L/85/15/263 dated May 22, 2015 had sought a complete record of the project from the project director. But the officer concerned didn’t bother to respond to investigators as yet.
After getting this cold response from the NHIP project director, according to sources, the FIA on October 15, 2015 wrote a letter No PS/FIA/ACC/E/85/15 to NHA chairman and sought a complete record of the project. They also requested the chairman to deploy an official of NHIP to assist them in the subject matter.
Responding FIA positively, the National Highway Authority Chairman provided them all the record pertaining to the project and appointed Muhammad Umar, Assistant Director (Maintenance) Unit, National Highway Authority Lahore as a liaison officer in the matter on October 29, 2015.
It is also learnt that the NAB has also started an inquiry into the same case, but it couldn’t be confirmed from the NAB spokesman in Lahore despite repeated attempts were made during the last two weeks.
It is further learnt that in the recent past Chief Minister Inspection Team (CMIT) has also conducted an enquiry into the issue as well.
When contacted on Wednesday, NHIP Project Coordinator Muzaffar Abbas refused to comment on the matter. Despite repeated attempts, National Highway Authority spokesman was not available for comments.