Bhutto airport project may cost over Rs100bn

January 18, 2014 - 12:00:00 am
ISLAMABAD: Construction cost of the New Benazir Bhutto International Airport is likely to escalate to over Rs100bn as construction of reservoirs is needed to provide water to the building.

A special briefing about the project was given to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by the members of Planning Commission and the ministry of civil aviation yesterday.

The PAC had taken note of the delays in the project but its members were taken back when informed that the cost estimates originally planned to be Rs37bn in 2008 had increased by more than 200 percent.

“We were told in the middle of last year that the cost had gone up by around 100 percent to some Rs66bn but now you are saying that it is around Rs95bn,” said the PAC chairman, Khursheed Shah.

The briefing was given by Mohammad Ali Gardezi, the secretary aviation, who is also the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority Board.

Gardezi said the project was scheduled to become operational by December 2013. “But the new date is 2016.”

He said there was no water available for the airport as the original plan had been turned down by the Punjab government.

“The new airport was scheduled to receive water from the Shahpur dam, and the Punjab government had agreed to it, but now they have backed off saying the water was even not sufficient for the local population.”

The secretary said planning was underway to establish several small reservoirs to collect rainwater that would be supplied to the airport.

Regarding the cost escalation, he said there were several reasons but all of them related to poor planning, monitoring and incompetence of the consultants.

“Now we have made two runways instead of the originally planned one runway,” he said. “Two foreign consultants were not performing duties properly but after we took action against them they moved the courts.”

In reply to a question, the PAC was informed that the CAA board had awarded the contract to the consultants. The CAA board was managing and supervising the pace of work. He added that the current CAA board was holding an inquiry into the delays and the price escalations.

The respond invited a sharp reaction from the PAC members. “Now we understand why the Supreme Court had to interfere as the real culprit is the CAA board,” member PAC Mian Abdul Mannan added.

The committee was informed that 70 per cent of the terminal structure had been completed. Almost all the inner roads are also complete and tenders for nine bridges in the airport vicinity have been floated. “But no work has been initiated by the NHA to establish roads to the airport,” the secretary aviation added.