Billions embezzled in motorway project, claims minister

Published: April 5, 2019
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Federal minister for communications Murad Saeed. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Federal minister for communications Murad Saeed. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed on Thursday said the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs50 billion due to misappropriation in the Multan-Sukkur Motorway project by the former rulers.

Talking to the media, he said he had challenged Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Ahsan Iqbal to go to the court for verification of the corruption allegations against him.

Saeed said, “Iqbal has claimed to have been sent a defamation notice, but I have not sent any notice so far.”

He said he would not let Iqbal forget what he had done, adding that he had raised some questions but Iqbal failed to reply to any of them. “Iqbal said he would answer my questions in the National Assembly, but he has not answered even a single one of them,” said Saeed,

The minister said he questioned the character of Javed Sadiq, adding that how could Iqbal have signed an MoU of a project in 2013 whose bidding had to be carried out in 2015.

Iqbal received Rs70b kickbacks in motorway project: Saeed

He said a Business Plan of the National Highway Authority (NHA), leasing of NHA lands for raising funds and regulations for access from NHA controlled network has been approved and it would be announced in a press conference in a couple of days.

He said, “Under the leasing policy, 114 sites located in NHA’s Right of Way (RoW) will be leased out while 15 sites more have been identified for leasing purposes.”

It was further told that during the present government, the Sahianwala Service Area on Pindi Bhattian-Faisalabad Motorway was re-leased out. Earlier, NHA was getting Rs1.9 million revenue per annum from it, while now it would receive Rs78 million per annum, the minister added.

“Likewise, the Rest Area on Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Motorway has been rented out during the present regime, while rent of the Tandalianwala Rest Area is Rs90.6 million per annum and Rs780,000 per month,” said Saeed.

He said NHA was receiving Rs4.5 million rent annually from Hakla Service Area on M-1, while its “current rent is Rs50.77 million per annum and Rs4.2 million per month”.

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“Such steps have resulted in increasing the revenue of NHA by Rs9.54 billion,” said Saeed, adding that the transparency process of leasing out NHA’s RoW for business purpose would help make the NHA self-sufficient.

The minister said new ways and means were being explored to increase revenue level so that this organisation could meet its financial requirement through its own resources.

He said, “Special audit of five NHA projects has been conducted and reports have been completed.”

The projects include Lyari Expressway, Khuzdar-Shahdadkot Highway, Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab Highway, Lowari Tunnel Civil Works, and Kalat-Quetta-Chaman Highway.

The minister said, “These five NHA projects have been inordinately delayed, causing price escalation and other adverse effects on governance.”

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