Daylight robbery: Contractor allegedly renting govt shops at throwaway price

PTI MPA vows to make auction process transparent while municipal authorities deny knowledge of irregularities.


Mureeb Mohmand July 22, 2014

SHABQADAR: Councilor Alliance Charsadda leader Jahanzeb Khan has accused a private contractor of allocating shops for rent in the newly-constructed Shabqadar Plaza at throwaway rates and without the permission of the K-P Local Council Board.

He told The Express Tribune that the plaza, located in Shabqadar Bazaar on Peshawar Road, was constructed after strong local opposition as it was handed to the contractor in 2012 without the official bidding process taking place.

Khan, the leader of the alliance formed during General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf’s regime to represent the community, said that now it was the shops that were being allotted without the required auction being held. He added the contractor was causing the treasury to incur a massive loss by pocketing Rs6 to 7 million for each of the shops and giving them out for Rs2,500 rent per month instead of the recommended Rs25,000.

He also alleged that a certain municipal official was in cahoots with the contractor and is supporting corruption. Khan said his complaints against the individual concerned fell on deaf ears.

An official from the municipal committee, while choosing to remain anonymous, told The Express Tribune that he was aware of the allotments by the contractor without their permission. He revealed that a letter had been sent three months ago to the Local Council Board to approve the auction, however, there had been no reply since. He stated that the sum received from the auction would be divided 80/20 between the contractor and the municipal committee, while all rent would go to the government body.

The official stated the only legal way to get shops for rent in the plaza was via auction, but some parties were getting their hands on them through illegal ‘negotiations’.

However, K-P Local Council Board official Attaur Rehman said that no such negotiations had taken place and shops would be allotted through an open auction, the date of which would be announced in major newspapers. When asked about the delay in the auction, he said certain formalities needed to be completed and an announcement would be made in due course.

The official said he was unaware of any illegal allotments by the contractor, but assured that strict action would be taken if anyone was found guilty of such a practice. He added there would be complete transparency in the allotment of these shops.

When contacted, PTI MPA from Shabqadar, Muhammad Arif Ahmadzai, said he was aware of the irregularities and warned he would not allow any form of corruption. He noted that the contract for the plaza had been awarded by bypassing rules and regulations, but said he would ensure transparency in shop allotments.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2014.

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