SHC reissues notices to officials in University Road construction case

Sindh High Court hearing petition regarding awarding of contract, use of substandard materials on road

Naeem Sahoutara February 22, 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: Five people, including four students and a child, lost their lives in tragic road accidents that took place recently on the city's busiest artery, University Road. But, the local government and traffic police authorities seem least bothered over the issue, as they did not show up in court on Wednesday despite being issued notices.

Therefore, a two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) summoned the provincial local government department secretary in person to submit a report regarding progress on the construction of the dilapidated road.

Headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, the bench also repeated notices to the Karachi commissioner, East deputy commissioner and Karachi traffic DIG to file their comments by March 9.

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The bench was hearing a petition seeking inquiry into awarding of contracts for construction of the city’s main artery, the slow pace of work and quality testing of the material being used.

The matter was taken up in the court by a resident, Rizwan Rafi, who had named the provincial local government department secretary, the Karachi commissioner, East DC and traffic DIG as respondents.

In his plea, Rafi had submitted that the city’s busiest thoroughfare had been in a dilapidated state for the last many years but the provincial authorities concerned had failed to ensure its maintenance.

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

The petitioner had 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.

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According to his lawyer, Umar Lakhani, 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.

During the previous hearing, the court had issued notices to the LG secretary, Karachi commissioner, East deputy commissioner and traffic DIG to file their comments. Meanwhile, the LG secretary was told to submit a report reflecting the day to day progress of the project from the day of its commencement.

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During Wednesday’s proceedings none of the respondents were present in the court. Nor was any progress report filed behalf of the secretary.

Therefore, the bench directed the office to repeat notices to all the respondents to file their comments by March 9. The LG secretary was specifically directed to appear in person on the next date along with a progress report.