The four flyovers, which are being constructed in Karachi at the expense of more than Rs1 billion of taxpayer money, are being designed by NAA Consulting Engineers (Pvt) Ltd but only after the city ended its agreement with the firm.
The flyovers are planned for Ayesha Manzil, Water Pump, Liaquatabad Daak Khana and Teen Hatti intersections, a senior Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) official said.
The little-known NAA Consulting Engineers Pvt Ltd came to prominence after it became joint venture partners with the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak), one of the largest consultancy firms in the country. NAA Consulting is run by CEO Nadim Ansari, an engineer.
Together the two firms were assisting the city in building bridges, roads and drains. Nespak would do the feasibility study, project planning and prepare detailed designs while NAA Consulting was responsible for the supervision of on-site works.
But then trouble started to develop when Nespak accused NAA of eating into its deals and piggy-backing off its reputation. Nespak vice president in Karachi, Farhat Adil, alleged that NAA’s Nadim Ansari had started signing bills and taking money from KMC in violation of the joint venture agreement.
“[Nadim Ansari] made a windfall using Nespak’s name,” VP Adil alleged. “He started using the joint venture with us as a way to get contracts for himself.” According to NAA’s Ansari, however, he was the lead consultant responsible for the completion of the projects while he was working with Nespak.
Nespak is now suspicious of NAA’s expertise. “Ansari suggested constructing a flyover on the road between Karachi Gymkhana and Beach Luxury Hotel,” said Nespak’s Adil. “Our engineers found that was not feasible.”
He picked flaws with Ansari’s proposal for an underpass at Shaheen Complex. “That can’t be built either as there is a conduit (storm water drain) underneath the road that is hard to shift, Adil added. For his part, however, Ansari told The Express Tribune that when KMC had asked him if this was possible, he had said it was but that a lot of money would be involved as “army” telephone lines ran underneath.
Eventually an unhappy Nespak served KMC notice over NAA – but then ran into trouble with the city government itself. “We have been disqualified as consulting engineers by KMC on the grounds that we don’t have a valid licence from the Pakistan Engineering Council,” said an incredulous Adil. “Can you imagine this happening to Nespak, which has 40 years of experience?”
After the contract between Nespak and KMC was cancelled, technically the role of NAA Consulting should have ended as well. Ansari acknowledges this but says the projects they are working on now are backdated. “KMC had awarded this four flyover project to us before they cancelled the agreement with us and Nespak,” Ansari said. “This is why we are going to complete it now.”
Conflicting statements were made over NAA’s current status with the city government. On one hand, KMC’s director-general for technical services, Altaf G Memon, told The Express Tribune, that the in-house consultancy contract with NAA was cancelled on March 19.
When asked whether NAA was designing the four new flyovers, KMC’s Memon said they weren’t. “Dr Afaq Shohaib is designing the bridges and [NAA’s] Ansari has nothing to do with the design,” Memon said. But strangely, Ansari told The Express Tribune that Dr Afaq Shohaib was working for him as a structural engineer to design the bridges. This implies that KMC has a continued relationship with NAA. Dr Afaq Shohaib is one of the few PhDs in structural engineering in Pakistan, said Ansari.
For his part, Ansari said that his company has prepared a concept design for the four flyovers and was waiting for KMC to award it the contract for the detailed design. He defended their work. “Have any of the bridges and roads that we have designed broken or collapsed?” he asked, before answering the question himself. “No, they haven’t.”
NAA may have trust in its own work but the city doesn’t seem to. A few weeks back, KMC ran a telling advertisement looking for a consultant that could vet the designs of its in-house consultant at the time: NAA Consultancy. None of the city officials The Express Tribune spoke to could explain why that was being done.
Meanwhile, the construction on the flyovers will start by the end of next month. KMC has awarded the construction (not design) contracts to three different companies even though the structural designs are not yet ready – another problem on its own. “That is how money is made,” said an industry official, who has worked closely with KMC. “This is where all the cuts and under-the-table dealings come into play. The contractors will jack up the costs slowly and more and more public money will fill the coffers of corrupt officials.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2012.
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