NLC receivables pile up as govt fails to release funds for Chakwal road projects

A passenger bus travels on the under-construction Chakwal-Sohawa Road. — Dawn
A passenger bus travels on the under-construction Chakwal-Sohawa Road. — Dawn

CHAKWAL: The National Logistics Cell’s (NLC) receivables have risen to Rs4.34 billion, while the federal government has yet to release funding to complete projects to convert the Chakwal-Sohawa Road and Mandra-Chakwal Road into dual carriageways.

Despite repeated efforts by Chakwal MNA retired Maj Tahir Iqbal, and demands by the NLC, the government has not issued funding for the two projects.

Officials told Dawn that the government owes the NLC Rs4.34bn; the cell has spent Rs5.84bn on Mandra-Chakwal Road and Rs2.5bn onChakwal-Sohawa Road, but has only received Rs3bn for Mandra-Chakwal Road and Rs1bn for Chakwal-Sohawa Road.

The project to convert both roads into dual carriageways began on Sept 2012 under then prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, but work was halted due to legal issues. The project was re-launched on July 16, 2014, by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who ordered for work to be completed within a year.

According to revised cost estimates, it will cost Rs7.7bn to convert the 64 kilometre Mandra-Chakwal Road into a dual carriageway, while the 70km Chakwal-Sohawa Road will cost Rs7.12bn.

In addition, Rs1bn was approved for the construction of a 14km bypass road named Northern Bypass.

Both remain incomplete; Mandra-Chakwal Road is 91pc complete, while Chakwal-Sohawa Road is 24pc.

“Mandra-Chakwal Road is almost ready, and only the construction of an overhead bridge is underway which could be completed by April if funds are issues, as we cannot afford any more spending from our own pocket,” a senior NLC official said, adding that if the government releases funding for Chakwal-Sohawa Road, 30km of its 70km road could be completed in two months. However, due to the lack of funds, he said they had no choice but to slow down progress.

Due to the shortage of funding, the government also could not complete to process of acquiring land for the Northern Bypass, which was approved by Mr Sharif to protect Chakwal city from an influx of heavy traffic after the dual carriageways have been completed.

When contacted, Public Works Department Executive Engineer Mohammad Irshad admitted that two cheques for Rs4.93bn were issued for the two roads, but both have not been cashed yet. “The issue will be resolved soon,” he claimed.

MNA Tahir Iqbal also claimed that the Planning Commission had approved Rs1.5bn for Chakwal-Sohawa Road, which would be released soon.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2017

Courtesy: DAWN