New Benazir Bhutto airport: Inquiry blames CAA for delays, cost escalation

Splitting the project into 17 packages has caused delay. PHOTO: APP

Splitting the project into 17 packages has caused delay. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD: The construction cost of a new airport on the edge of the federal capital has escalated 22 times than the estimate in its feasibility report. Authorities blame the 22-year-long land procurement process for the delays in planning and execution of the project.

The Inquiry Committee on the New Benazir Bhutto International Airport Project (NBBIAP) in its report held Civil Aviation Authority’s planning department responsible for the delay and the subsequent escalation of cost from Rs37 billion to Rs66 billion.

The committee – headed by Lt Gen (retd) Shahid Niaz – was constituted by the ministry of defence in June last year to probe the causes of delay in the completion of the airport.

“The CAA’s planning and development department lacked capacity and expertise required for a project of this magnitude. It thus forced the CAA board to take decisions about the project’s implementation based on its inaccurate assessment and analysis,” says the inquiry report the committee submitted to the government in January, this year.

A copy of the report is available with The Express Tribune.

Between 1986 and 2008, the authorities procured 3,287 acres of land against 3,155 acres recommended in the project’s master plan. The average cost per acre was estimated around Rs277,037 which was 22 times higher than the cost estimated in feasibility study in 1984.

The current project authorities, however, consider the acquired land insufficient for commercial facilities and for future operational requirements of the airport.

It added that this reflects poor planning by the Project Management Consultants (PMC) superimposed by a lack of correct assessment and scrutiny by the CAA’s planning and development department, the inquiry concluded.

The PMC which included M/s Louis Berger Group USA with ECIL (M/s Engineering Consultants International Pvt Limited) prepared the final master plan in 2006 but missed out on certain essential components which were later also overlooked by CAA’s planning and development department during their scrutiny process.

The PMC also failed in its responsibility to prepare a comprehensive PC-1 for the project as it lacked clarity, realistic costing, and missed out on important details. “Under the present scenario even if the proposed cost of revised PC-1 of Rs66 billion is approved, the project will remain far from its operation,” stated the report.

During the course of inquiry, the project director submitted a list of missing items, claims and cost of land amounting to Rs18 billion.

Status of Completion

Splitting the project into 17 different packages has been the main cause of delay in execution, cost overruns and interface problems between contractors.

“Delay in timely provision of designs and an urge to show work on ground was the main reason for splitting work,” it added.

Of 17 packages, the executing agency had awarded 10 contracts till the completion of the inquiry. Of these only three were 100% complete, while the remaining seven were still in progress.

Source: The Express Tribune

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