Senate body briefed on NHA’s readiness for any predicted floods

ISLAMABAD   -  The Senate Standing Committee on Communication on Tuesday got briefing on the progress, repair and renewal of work on projects affected by the devastating floods last year and inquired about the preparedness for flood expected this year.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Prince Ahmed Umer Ahmedzai and examined in detail progress of various on-going and completed projects, total revenue generated by the NHA and other administrative matters pertaining to NHA. The committee also got briefing on the progress, repair and renewal of work on projects affected by the devastating floods last year and inquired about the preparedness for expected flood this year.

The committee was informed that the NHA along with NESPAK is working on a complete novel structure and alignment of bridges affected by floods. The committee was apprised that the NESPAK will furnish the structural design and NHA will give a presentation to the committee in next meeting on realignment of Pinjra Bridge. The said project will take around 2 years to complete.

The committee was informed that a complete hydrogel study of the NHA network is required to address floods in the country. It was also briefed that the NHA restored the roads affected in the flood. The officials from the Ministry of Finance said that NHA has spent Rs2.4 billion on repair/rehabilitation of the side roads out of NHA network in all provinces but not a single penny has been received from the government till date. It was further informed by the NHA officials that the Prime Minister of Pakistan has decided that expenditure incurred on roads in provinces, funds may also be provided by the respective province.

The committee also received briefing on the details of revenue generated by NHA since January 2019 including toll tax and other sources mentioning annually, monthly break along with its utilisation. It was apprised that a total of Rs135,488.43 million were earned by toll revenue (National Highways & Motorways for the period of January 2019 to June 2023 out of which motorways earned Rs44,376.84 million and National Highways earned Rs91,111.59 million).

The committee was also told that Rs112,187.1 million were utilised on maintenance and Rs4,277.2 million on establishment.

While taking briefing on the details of on-going projects inaugurated by the Prime Minister since 1st January 2023 to-date, the committee showed concern over the incomplete on-going projects. The chairman committee said that each project only gets 10 to 15 pc of funds annually which causes delay in its completion, price escalation and disputes amongst the authority and contractors. He said this delay causes great loss to the country as the NHA has to pay the liability of escalated rates to the contractor. The chairman committee sought details of all the delayed projects in the last 5 years and cost of liability of each project paid to the contractor in next meeting. The committee was told that bidding is continued on around 10 -15 new projects in last 6 months.

The committee also took briefing from the NHA on the current status of recruitment process of jobs advertised on 6th May and 21st May, 2023. It was briefed that NHA advertised 96 project posts of different cadres on 7-5- 2023, total number of applications received against the post was 6851 out of which 4756 candidates were shortlisted after shortlisting of candidates written tests of shortlisted candidates were conducted on 19, 20 of July, 2023 the paper checking is in progress and the eligible candidates will be called for interview. Similarly NHA advertised 37 vacant post regular post of different cadres against Balochistan quota on 21.05.2023 against which 309 application were received. And shortlisting of candidates is in progress. The committee remarked that much recruitment is made on Balochistan quota to candidates domiciled for Balochistan.

However, the local communities who are the real deserving candidates remain unprivileged in this regard. The committee recommended that test should be conducted in the local city and also an office should be established in the city to process recruitments so that the local community is benefited the most. The chairman committee also constituted a sub-committee comprising Senator Danesh Kumar, Senator Munzoor Ahmed Kakar and Senator Umer Farooq to probe in detail the recruitments process on Balochistan quota.

The NHA requested the committee to enhance maintenance grant to which senator Umer Farooq remarked that if NHA will submit their suggestions, committee will surely consider it and will forward recommendation on its enhancement if seem appropriate.

The committee was informed that there are 86 toll tax stations which are recently awarded to different company by bidding process. The committee also inquired about a project inaugurated by Maulana Fazlur Rehman which went viral on social media and directed to provide its details. The committee was briefed that the project is of D I Khan by-pass is a Rs3.4 billion project at a length of 36km.

Earlier in the meeting, the committee members showed reservation on the persistence absence of the Minister from the meetings and said that perhaps more than busy the Minister seems not interested in resolution of problems faced by the general public. The meeting was attended by Senator Denesh Kumar, Muhammad Akram, Senator Umer Farooq and Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar. Officials from attached departments were also in attendance.

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