Islamabad-The funds allocated for provision of 130 buses to government schools in Islamabad are going to lapse due to alleged negligence and lack of interest on the part of the officials of the Federal Directorate of Education, an official said.

Former premier Mian Nawaz Sharif had announced providing 423 buses to government schools in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) under the Prime Minister Education Reforms Programme (PMERM).

However, so far, only 70 buses have been provided to the schools, out of which nearly half are still anchored as the FDE failed in hiring the staff to run the buses and also did not provide salaries to the drivers already been hired for the purpose, said the official.

In the second phase, 130 buses were to be purchased at a cost of Rs845 million, the official said, adding that due to slow pace of procedural formalities, the funds allocated for the purpose received in October 2017 are going to lapse.

The official said that the FDE had decided to issue the tenders again. The process takes nearly 40 days and redoing the entire process will take more than 2 months, while in May, the funds are going to lapse, he elaborated. “It is impossible now to procure 130 buses during this financial year,” said the official.

The official added that performance of the FDE regarding management of already-provided 70 buses was also unsatisfactory as not all the buses were functional due to lack of drivers despite passage of around two years.

The new buses have been especially designed keeping in view the number of students but the FDE failed in managing the administrative matters, said the official.

The official said that total amount allocated under the PMERP for the ICT schools was around Rs4 billion, out of which Rs2.9 billion were sanctioned for upgrading 200 schools and around Rs1.5 billion were allocated for purchasing the buses.  The FDE had also forwarded a summary for purchasing the remaining buses under the programme for rest of the institutions.

The PMERP, announced in 2015, has entered phase-III but so far no practical measures have been observed, said the official.  However, Director General FDE Hasnat Qureshi denied that the finance department had objections over the project. He said that the tender was in final stages and selection of the company had also been done.

He said that the finance department had no concerns with purchase of the buses and these would be purchased likely in June. The DG said that all buses were functional and were mostly provided to rural and far-off schools of the ICT. He admitted that issue of drivers existed as the government had not created the posts for drivers.

He said that drivers were hired on daily-wage basis against the pay package of Rs14,000 per month but they were keeping switching the job.