KARACHI: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has initiated investigations into alleged irregularities in the utilisation of development funds meant for different infrastructure projects of the city.
During a raid at the engineering department of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) on Friday (February 15), a team of NAB officials sought the record of the last six years involving an expenditure of Rs25 billion relating to these projects.
According to sources in the NAB, billions of rupees of development funds were misused with the help of senior officials of the KMC who connived with other departments and manipulated contracts at a large scale through bogus tenders.
Several developmental schemes of the KMC were allegedly transferred to unrelated departments of the Sindh government such as the department of education works and the department of highways.
Besides, contracts were awarded illegally against kickbacks and commissions which were pocketed by senior officials. While some former administrators of KMC have been accused for these irregularities and misuse of funds, money was still reportedly coming from the Sindh government and was being transferred every three months for works done by unrelated departments.
The investigations by NAB will include scrutiny of records with details of how tenders were processed and awarded to successful contractors and measurement books as well as physical surveys of the development work which KMC claims to have done. It is alleged that funds reserved for developmental work were increased unnecessarily.
Major projects being investigated by NAB include the N5 link road, the Jam Sadiq Ali Bridge, the Malir Halt Flyover, Malir 15 Flyover, and others which were initiated and executed under the provincial government’s Annual Development Programme (ADP).
Sources said that at present, KMC’s finance and KMC departments are on the NAB’s radar, but the national watchdog is likely to expand the scope of its investigations, by interrogating other senior officials of the KMC and some departments of the Sindh government.
Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, while talking to The Express Tribune, confirmed that NAB had started investigating development projects dating back to 2010, and has sought records from the KMC. He maintained that all the projects under scrutiny were planned and executed by the Sindh government.
The mayor said that the KMC does not have the authority to carry out any project which exceeds the cost of Rs20 million under the Sindh Local Government Ordinance. Yet half of KMC’s officials were sitting in NAB’s offices, added the mayor claiming that this was interfering with his organisation’s work.
According to Akhtar, the federal and provincial governments were not interested in the problems faced by Karachi and hence problems had amassed in the city.
Karachi has serious traffic problems, the public transport system is non-existent and the little that exists remains in deplorable conditions but the chief minister could not even provide 200 buses to the city during 10 years of his tenure, said the mayor. He added that KMC wished to improve the conditions of hospitals but could not do so. The funds KMC receives from ADP are used in infrastructural projects, said the mayor.