ISLAMABAD - Work on Rs14.877 billion Mandra-Chakwal and Sohawa-Chakwal road projects could not be completed even after over three years of inauguration due to a delay in the release of funds as the government has not yet cleared Rs2.8 billion in dues to the National Logistics Cell.

The Rs7.758 billion Mandra-Chakwal road project was inaugurated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in July 2014 and it was supposed to be completed in 2015 but due to bureaucratic red-tapism in the release of funds, the project could not be completed despite the passage of three-and-a-half years, a source told The Nation on Tuesday.

According to the source, work on the Rs7.119 billion Sohawa-Chakwal road project has also been lingering due to the delay in payments.

The source said that the receivables of the NLC against the two road projects have piled up to the tune of Rs2.8 billion, negatively impacting the execution work on the crucial schemes.

The 63.25-kilometre Mandra-Chakwal Road and 70-kilometere Chakwal-Sohawa road were to be made dual carriageways at an estimated cost of Rs9.32 billion and Rs7.90 billion respectively.

According to the source, the Mandra-Chakwal road was initially approved by ex-prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in 2012, however, the Islamabad High Court cancelled the contract and ordered its bidding afresh. The NLC again won the project in an open bidding and subsequently, the road project was inaugurated by Sharif in July 2014. The road was scheduled to be completed in 18 months but the NLC officials had promised to construct it in one-year provided they were given funds on time. Sharif had directed the departments concerned to ensure funds flow, however, the directives fell on a deaf ear.

“The project was riddled with a host of problems like the prolonged process of land acquisition, shifting of utilities, social conflicts, hostile attitude of the local community and, above all, a lack of support from the government departments, which has adversely affected physical progress on the project,” the sources said.

“For the sake of our own credibility and to alleviate the hardships of commuters, we kept on investing a huge sum from our own sources. Nevertheless, being a contractor, we do have some limitations, and now, we are unable to invest anymore. We have been continuously requesting the government to clear our dues immediately,” the sources said.

Of late, the NLC has been experiencing sporadic crucial phases in terms of delay in payments by the departments concerned and the PWD, the sources said.  The delayed in payments has been already causing severe cash flow issues for the NLC, negatively impacting the contractual payment chain.  As a result, the NLC has to manage funds from its own resources causing intermittent slow-down in the execution of work.  The issue of delay in payments, if persists, will not only cause substantial delay in the execution of both the projects but also increase the cost in terms of idle charges besides coupling the miseries of locals residing along the under-construction roads, the sources said. 

Giving the breakdown of cash flow, the source said that the NLC has spent Rs6,381 million on Mandra-Chakwal road project so far but it has received only Rs3,930 million against the net receivable of Rs2,451 million. Similarly, the NLC has spent Rs1,934 million on Sohawa-Chakwal road project and out of which, it has received Rs1,551 million against the Rs383 million receivable amount, the source said. The government owes Rs2,834 million to the NLC against both the projects, he added.