Civic contractor takes Clifton board to court over ‘favouritism’

CBC picks Rs9.3m contract over a Rs5.9m one.

Our Correspondent August 17, 2012

KARACHI: The fight to keep Clifton and DHA clean played out in court on Thursday with an old company accusing the cantonment board of picking favourites.

At stake are millions of rupees in a conservancy contract to collect garbage and keep the neighbourhoods clean. For over three years, Saleh Brothers has provided the service for Rs5.9 million. The contract runs out on Saturday, August 18, and Saleh Brothers intended to take part again.

However, when bidding for a new tender opened earlier this month at the cantonment office, armed guards kept Saleh Brothers representatives from entering the room. They were marked absent and the new contract was awarded to Nisar Jan & Company and Amir Sawab & Brothers for Rs9.3 million per month for one year. Cantonment laws say that any bidding has to take at least seven days but in this case, the paperwork was done in just three hours, argues the lawyer representing Saleh Brothers, Shoua-un-Nabi.

Plowing ahead, on August 16, the cantonment board gave a notice in the newspaper, saying that Nisar Jan & Company and Amir Sawab & Brothers were in charge of conservancy services in the area from Thursday onwards for one year.

The fight had been brewing for a month. On August 3, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar of the Sindh High Court had restrained the cantonment board from finalizing the tender till August 9 and ordered it to allow Saleh Brothers to take part in the bidding. But it seems as if the board has flouted the court order.

In the background to this was the cantonment board’s decision to fine Saleh Brothers Rs20 million on different pretexts and bar it from doing any more business with it. The board confiscated Rs5 million in the surety from Saleh Brothers as well. In response, Saleh Brothers filed three cases against the board.

Its lawyer Shoua-un-Nabi advocate said that they were offering the same services for a cheaper price. “This is also a clear case of wasting public money,” he said. The rise in monthly expenditure translates into Rs1.1 billion, he had argued in court.

On Thursday, August 16, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar ordered the cantonment board to come on Friday to defend itself.

The conservancy tax is calculated by the square yard from Rs150 to Rs200. So, for example, if someone lives on a 500-square yard plot, they would have to pay Rs100,000 a year for garbage collection.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.