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Chitral: Auditors detect irregularities in Lowari tunnel project

ISLAMABAD: Audit authorities have found irregularities in the Rs9816 million Lowari Tunnel project aiming “to provide all-weather transportation link between Chitral and the rest of the country”.
According to Director General of Audit Maqbool Gondal, the work related to providing monitoring and geo-technical instrument services was assigned to a firm, Geo Data, which is owned by the son of the consultant of the Lowari Tunnel project.

Mr Gondal told the Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday that there was a conflict of interest as the consultant is supposed to verify bills of the contractor and also grant certification for the completion of certain work.
An audit report pointed out that the contractor was allowed to increase in the price of raw material as well as adjust the foreign currency exchange rate.
According to the auditors, contractors could claim either escalation cost or fluctuation in the rate of foreign currency.

As per the audit report, the National Highway Authority (NHA) did not receive Rs309 million mobilisation advances from the contractor. On a question of Shafqat Mehmood, a PAC member, that how long would it take to complete the tunnel project, Mr Gondal said the project was scheduled to be completed in 2017.

The 46km two tunnels project was started in September, 2005. The proposed date of completion of the project is October, 2017. Original cost of the contract was Rs5428 million and the revised cost is Rs9816 million.

Secretary Communication Shahid Ashraf Tarrar told the committee that there was a marginal increase in the amount the National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP) collected against challans for traffic violations on the Motorways.

On the question of the committee’s members that whether there had been increase in traffic violations on the Motorways, Mr Tarrar said the increase in the amount of fines was not due to increase in traffic violations but because of enhanced capabilities of NHMP to stop traffic violations.
According to him, NHMP has acquired night-vision cameras because of which over-speeding can be checked at night as well.–

Published in Dawn

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