IIA’s runway, washrooms below international standards, PAC panel told

Saudi delegation reviews facilities at the airport for its ‘Road to Makkah’ project

Our Correspondent April 04, 2019
Saudi delegation reviews facilities at the airport for its ‘Road to Makkah’ project. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In a startling revelation, it has been claimed that the new airport built in the federal capital is not up to international standards even as the government spent a whopping Rs100 billion on its construction.

This was disclosed in a sub-committee meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday. Chaired by Syed Fakhar Imam, it was revealed in the meeting that the most important aspect of the airport, its runway, was not up to the mark. Moreover, the public toilets at the airport were also below the set standards.

Examining paragraphs from an audit report for the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) expenses for the fiscal year 2012-13, audit officials said that they had conducted nine audits of the airport to determine the delay in the construction of the new Islamabad International Airport (IIA).

The auditors added that inquiries have also been conducted into the project by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and under the chair of Shamsul Malik in which seven people were termed as responsible but not even one investigation or audit report was implemented thus far.

The committee’s convener Imam noted that there was an insufficient number of toilet stalls at the airport while they are in such poor condition that it is hard to even pass by it. Further, the committee’s chair complained that water often accumulates in the airport every other day.

The federal aviation secretary admitted to basic flaws in the construction of the airport and explained the pooling of water into puddles as a design flaw in the airport’s construction.

He added that when ground was broken for the project, there was no infrastructure or financial feasibility ready for the project. Moreover, its project concept-I was not ready either.

The audit officials said that even though the project had been audited nine times, there was a need to further audit it.

The PAC subcommittee sought a report on the implementation of the auditor’s recommendations and clearing objections within two weeks.

Saudi Arabia includes IIA in ‘Road to Makkah’ plan

A 14-member Saudi delegation headed by its Immigration Director General Major General Sulaiman Al Yahya reviewed on Wednesday arrangements made at the IIA regarding the facility’s integration into its 'Road to Makkah' project.

Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Secretary Mushtaq Ahmed, CAA Secretary Shahrukh Nusrat, Customs Collector Seema Raza Bukhari and high ranking Anti-Narcotics Force officers briefed the delegation regarding facilities provided to pilgrims at the airport.

The Saudi delegation inspected the security arrangements along with the immigration and customs counters at the airport.

They also visited a section of the airport which has been dedicated for the 'Road to Makkah' project.

The delegation expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made for the project, adding that both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would jointly serve the pilgrims. They further said that the immigration system in Islamabad will be directly connected to systems in Jeddah.

Further, they demanded that after pilgrims have cleared security and customs checks by Pakistani officials, Saudi officials conduct a security check of passengers in the departure lounge before they board the planes.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2019.


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