PIA starts inquiry into substandard food case

LAHORE –  PIA has started inquiry against officers allegedly involved in hiring of a defaulter contractor and purchasing substandard food worth Rs32 million for passengers and crew members.

Though PIA has sought explanation from Mujib-ur Rehman, GM Food Services, but no action has been taken against Manager Food Services Islamabad Khuda Dino who acted as a negotiator in this deal. He was transferred from Islamabad to Karachi on different charges including ordering and procurement of items for PM VVIP flights on Oct 06, 2017. Khuda Dino (Manager Food Services Islamabad), using undue political pressure, obtained illegal promotion in group 7 from group 6 on July 1, 2014. He forcefully made HR officer sign his back dated promotion letter and got PIA ID card issued based on that promotion letter. Later on, his promotion was cancelled on Sep 9, 2014 after scrutiny of record, documents available with The Nation revealed.

However, he managed to get promotion to group 7 in late 2016 due to unknown reasons.

The then General Manager, Food Services Division (FSD) Mujeeb-ur-Rehman not only hired M/S Gaggan catering in 2016 but also made payment of more than Rs10 million in violation of PPRA rules and PIA Schedule of Power. The said contractor was declared disqualified twice, in 2014 and 2015, during PIA inspection due to its poor food and arrangements.

A site evaluation report revealed that 31 observations were made regarding hygienic conditions of the Gaggan kitchen including the food stored which was soft or semi solid instead of hard solid, thus making it a very high risk meal. The torn meal foils/casseroles inside the top open freezers were having layer of ice on top of it; in case of change of temperature the melted ice will penetrate inside making the food very unhygienic.

PIA investigation report found that the case had connection with catering services at Lahore. Kitchen Cuisine was supplying catering service at Lahore station on temporary basis from 2014 when M/S Pearl Continental (PC) stopped supplying meals to PIA.

Tender was called for catering service at Lahore & bid for catering services at Lahore station was opened on 26.03.2015 and Kitchen Cuisine (KC), M/s Pearl Continental (PC), Aamir Rajput Catering, Falattis Hotel and M/s Gaggan Catering participated. Out of these four, only M/S Kitchen Cuisine (KC) and M/S Pearl Continental (PC) were qualified.

Whereas Gaggan Catering, M Aamir Rajput Catering and M Falattis Hotel were disqualified. When contacted, spokesman for airline said that an inquiry has been started into the issue and responsibility will be fixed on merit and irrespective of the rank and station of the officers.

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