Dilapidated artery: SHC takes notice of slow construction on University Road

Officials told to submit details on day to day progress of construction

Naeem Sahoutara February 21, 2017
The Sindh High Court is hearing a petition regarding the awarding of the contract for the construction of University Road to an unqualified private contractor. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the provincial local government secretary, the Karachi commissioner and East deputy commissioner to submit details regarding day to day progress on construction of the dilapidated University Road, where five people, including four students and a child, have been killed in tragic road accidents.

Headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, a two-judge bench also called for comments from Karachi's traffic DIG by February 22 when the matter will be taken up once again.

The bench was hearing a petition seeking inquiry into awarding of contracts for construction of the city's main artery, slow pace of work and quality testing of the material being used in it. The matter was taken up in the court by a resident, Rizwan Rafi, who had named the provincial secretary local governments department, the Karachi commissioner, the DC East and DIG Traffic as respondents.

Through Advocate Umar Lakhani, the petitioner submitted that the city's busiest thoroughfare, University Road, was in dilapidated conditions for the last many years, but the provincial authorities concerned had failed to ensure its maintenance.

He said finally the authorities awarded contract for construction of the road to a private construction company, which was neither reputable nor qualified for the award of the contract in question. He alleged that the contract award proceedings were kept secret.

The petitioner contended that the private firm had also failed to ensure timely completion of both the tracks of University Road and work was being carried out at snail's pace, due to which commuters were facing difficulties. Rafi contended that due to the slow pace of work, traffic related accidents on the under-construction road were taking place frequently. He said five people, including four university students, had been killed in recent incidents.

The judges were informed that there was no standard to check the quality of the material being used in the construction work, which would amount to wastage of public money. The court was pleaded to order the relevant authorities to ensure quality testing of the construction work through the Pakistan Engineering Council.

It was also urged to direct the LG secretary, Karachi commissioner and deputy commissioner to submit details of the contract awarded to the private firm.

After hearing initial arguments, the bench issued notices to the LG secretary, Karachi commissioner, East deputy commissioner and traffic DIG to file their comments by February 22. Meanwhile, the AG Sindh was directed to submit day to day progress on construction work from the day of its commencement.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2017.

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