Metro bus project: Minister’s brother gets horticulture contract

Ahsan Iqbal’s brother was appointed as a consultant by Nespak

The lack of colour and monotony of green was among the Capital Development Authority’s concerns regarding plantation along the route. PHOTO: HUMA CHOUDHARY/EXPRESS


While an inquiry into the purchase of substandard elevators for the multi-billion metro bus project is underway, another potential conflict-of-interest has surfaced, this time in horticulture planning.

Horticulture work technically falls under the purview of construction firms executing different packages of the project in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, but they have, in turn, subcontracted this work to Horti Group — a firm owned by Kamal. A source privy to the development said that such transactions have been kept undocumented to conceal the conflict of interest. The work is worth approximately Rs448 million.

Mustafa Kamal — a brother of Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal — is the owner of Horti Group, which was appointed as a horticulture consultant by Nespak, the design consultant for the metro bus project.

Incidentally, Kamal had previously served as chairman of the Punjab chief minister’s task force on parks and horticulture from September 2008 to June 2009. He left the position after an inquiry was ordered against him in January 2009 for allegedly “using his office for advancement of his own business”.

Nespak Highways Division Vice President Qazi Iftikhar Ahmad said Kamal was hired as a consultant, as he is a landscape architect. On the award of work to Kamal’s firm, he said it falls under the purview of Rawalpindi Development Authority, which is executing the project.

Horticulture work faulty: CDA

Recent correspondence between the CDA and RDA, available with The Express Tribune, the CDA had expressed concerns about the “deficiencies” it noticed in the ongoing landscape work along the metro bus corridor.

The CDA noted that Melaleuca trees planted recently across Saudi-Pak Tower on Jinnah Avenue, had dried up and died within days and needed to be replaced.

The CDA wrote that landscape plantation is being carried out in rushed manner without a well-thought-out plan, and suggested that the firm should stop the ongoing “rundown and disorganised plantation” and go for well-planned landscaping.

It noted that hotchpotch plantation was being done on the median. Also, the firm is planting deodar trees on the median, which are not suitable for medians because they grow to be very tall.

The letter says that colour scheme of plantation and landscaping has not been given due consideration, as the entire plantation consists of green plants such as Phoenix palms, Murraya, and ficus species. The CDA suggested that sufficient ornamental and flowering trees, shrubs, perennials, and variegated plants should also be added to the scheme.

“Phoenix palms have been planted under Chir pine trees, very close to their stem, which will compete for food and canopy in the long run,” it reads.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Kamal said his firm had been appointed as a consultant for Nespak as he enjoys a good reputation in the field of horticulture and landscaping. He denied that his firm was involved in any aspect project.

He also said that he was unaware of the letters written by the CDA to RDA about the flawed horticulture work.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2015.


Ch. Allah Daad | 9 years ago | Reply All in the family...when will this party learn?
Adnan Siddiqui | 9 years ago | Reply I'm against this kind of blatant nepotism
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