While Karachi’s infrastructure has reached the verge of collapse, the Sindh government has also stopped paying contractors, who have halted work on the city’s development projects.
The issue of payment to contractors in Karachi Metropolitan Corporation is intensifying with each passing day, officials told The Express Tribune on Monday, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media.
Sources said that there are sharp differences between the officials of the Finance Department and the Engineering Department of the KMC on the issue of payments to contractors.
According to sources, after the efforts of KMC’s financial adviser Ghulam Mustafa Bhutto, the Sindh government has issued two releases of funds to KMC which is more than Rs1.68 billion. Payments were to be made for the on-going development works from the said funds. However, in this regard, despite the passage of more than a month and a half, no payment could be made to any contractor. As a result, development contractors have stopped work altogether.
Sources said that the situation of the city’s infrastructure has further aggravated due to the on-going dispute between the KMC’s engineering and finance departments.
Karachi contractors are left destitute due to unnecessary delays in payments and are forced to visit the department daily for their payments.
Officials of the Karachi Contractors Association (Sindh), a representative body of contractors, have expressed grave concern over the current situation.
An emergency meeting of the association was held under the chairmanship of SM Naeem Kazmi in which it was informed that Rs.1638 million were released on 14th September 2021 by the Finance Department but more than a month and a half later, it is still not online. This is due to lack of trust between the finance and the engineering departments of the KMC.
Read More: ‘Sindh govt should stop taking over KMC depts’
In addition, due to the negligence of KMC officials, 32 such schemes were terminated in the current financial year in which the liabilities of the contractors amounting to Rs.178 million were payable due to which the concerned contractors were facing financial crisis. While the officers are reassuring the contractors that the amount would be paid from the block allocation received in the month of June, the contractors fear that if the block allocation amount, which has not been released for the last three years, is not released even this year, their bills may not be cleared.
Protest against irrigation dept
Mehran Contractors Association held a protest against the Sindh Irrigation Department demanding increase in rates of minimum price of the work. “Our profit margin is already low and higher rates do not suit us to bid for the projects,” said Saeed Jatoi, leader of Mehran Contractors Association, while talking to media on Monday after their protest demonstration was held within the boundary of Irrigation Department. The protest was also joined by Riaz Langah, Hafeez Abro, Janib Lashari, Ihsan Shah and others.
Jatoi said they had repeatedly demanded of the government to revise the rates which he claimed had not been reworked since 2012 when the prices of essential construction materials like cement, iron rods, etc were around 100 per cent lower than today. Jatoi and his associates stayed away from the tendering process initiated by Sindh’s Irrigation and Buildings Departments and claimed the contractors had responded to their call in other districts of the province too. He said that a tough challenge to the ruling party was that all development schemes would come to a standstill in the district as they had not participated in the tendering business. Another aspect of this issue was that the government rules related to the projects were that the executing engineers had the discretion to allow relief in rates up to a mark of 20 per cent. But the contractors complain they never get full relief in case of the increase of rates in the market, he added.
With additional input by PPI
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2021.