Islamabad - A parliamentary committee was Wednesday informed that due to bad road network in Balochistan accidents have increased which have taken the lives of around 8000 people in one year.

The Senate Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives that met with Agha Shahzaib Durrani asked the Ministry of Planning and government of Balochistan to improve the road network in the province so accidents could be reduced and precious human lives can be saved.

The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives in its meeting on Wednesday at Parliament House, discussed status of M-8 Ratodero to Khuzdar motorway project, execution and cost escalation of the construction/up-gradation of Dirgi Shabozai (N-70) to Taunsa (N-55) Road, Balochistan. RBOD-II mega drainage project and PSDP 2019-20 was discussed as well.

The committee was informed by the official of the Ministry of Communication due to absence of good road network in Balochistan 8,000 people have died in road accidents during one year. Senator Rukhsana Zubairi said that don’t take it light as it is serious issue and need special attention.

Regarding the progress on metro bus route from Peshawar Morr to New Islamabad Airport, official of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special initiative informed the committee that work on the project will be completed by the end of March. However it has not yet been decided that whether Capital Development Authority (CDA) or Punjab Metro Bus Authority will operate the Metro, the official disclosed. The committee recommended to improve the planning and monitoring of the federal developmental projects. Avoid making K-IV like projects which design was flawed, the committee noted.Official of the ministry of planning informed the committee that it has been decided that Planning will seek the services of Pakistan Engineering Council for the developmental projects. Pakistan Engineering Council has assured the provision of ten experts for various projects, it was informed.

Discussing the status of the M-8 Ratodero to Khuzdar Project, the Committee was informed that all bridges are operational except for a 47 Km patch. This part entails a hill that needs to be cut. Another issue that has been quoted for delay of the project is poor performance of contractor, due to which they have been removed. A revised PC-1 has been submitted to ECNEC for approval. The committee stressed the need for a team to visit the part of the route where work is pending and conduct an enquiry so that work stalled over a period of 21 years may be completed. Chairman of the committee, Senator Agha Shazaib Durrani directed NHA resolve issues with ECNEC so that the project may be completed at the earliest.

Discussing construction/up-gradation of Shabozai (N-70) to Tounsa (N-55) Road, the Committee was informed that the government of Balochistan requested PM (GOP) in 2009-10 for construction of the said project. BDA official’s along with local representatives visited the site and submitted the PC-1 amounting to PKR 6,023.890 million. The PC–I was approved in October, 2011. Later, certain amendments were made due to proposed scope of work. The amendments would give access to backward areas of Balochistan and improve connectivity to CPEC routes. The Committee gave directions to the Government of Balochistan to submit a revised PC-1 to the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives at the earliest.

Discussing the RBOD-II Mega Drainage Project (Extension RBOD from Sehwan to the sea), the committee was informed that 90 percent of the work had been completed. However, due to differences between stakeholders, work has been delayed. Senator Engr. Ruksana Zuberi, while reviewing the project asserted that capacity building was imperative to ensure that projects are monitored from inception. She said that a pool of consultants must be made available to work side by side of contractors. This would save cost and time overruns.

While discussing PSDP 2019-20 authorizations and expenditure, the committee was informed that size of PSDP was PKR 701 billion. Rs 424 billion is to be authorized by Ministry of Planning, Rs 149 billion by the Finance Division and Rs 128 billion to be directly disbursed to project authorities. The Planning Division stressed the need for discussing a mechanism to disallow re-appropriation of funds, since this, in the past, has created numerous issues. The committee decided to discuss the issue of under-utilization of development funds in merged FATA districts and TDP Development programs in the next meeting. While enquiring about the directives of the committee to work together and technically assess all projects to avoid any delays and cost overrun by devising a comprehensive mechanism in this regard, the committee was informed that Pakistan Engineering Council will provide a list of 10 experts/professional engineers of each field of engineering which will be considered for inclusion in monitoring plan on requirement/need basis. The committee directed that Planning Division and PEC must constantly work together to ensure quality and timely delivery of projects.