The National Highway Authority (NHA) has launched a smart phone application (app) that will provide all the relevant information related to its projects, their implementation, execution and progress.
The mobile app, which was launched on Sunday, will also serve the people who use their roads, to get information about NHA’s under execution projects, a senior official revealed to this scribe.
These kinds of applications are already functional in developed countries, said the official, adding that Minister of State for Communications Murad Saeed had directed the Ministry to launch a similar smart phone application within a month to provide necessary information to users, particularly the project’s implementation, execution and progress in their desired region.
A Bid to Control Corruption
According to senior officials, NHA is being considered as one of the most corrupt institutions where projects are being delayed due to conniving officials, making the projects’ cost escalate as a result.
Cost overruns in mega projects of NHA have become rather routine due to inconsistent policies, shortage of funds, security reasons, corruption and willful incompetence on the part of contractors, officials added. Some of the vital road projects’ cost escalated by over 200 percent and are still in implementation process despite the passage of over 15 years.
The cost of Lyari Expressway project increased by 154 percent, with the original cost of Rs 5.9 billion that was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), to Rs 12.99 billion. When work started on the Lyari Expressway in May 2002, the NHA believed that it could complete it in 30 months as per its original schedule (i.e. by November 2004). However the project only got completed recently in 2018. Other projects which were delayed and had their costs escalated include the Lowari Tunnel, Karachi Hyderabad Motorway (M-9), Jalkhad-Chilas section, Gwadar-Hoshab section of Rattodero-Gwadar Motorway (M-8) and Nishtar Gath Bridge.
The official said that this mobile app may help in monitoring projects as well as their implementation, and this may result in transparency to some extent.
In a bid to ensure transparency and accountability in the Ministry of Communications, Murad Saeed has also ordered the launch of an E-Tendering system across the country, replicating the one introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
To further enforce strict monitoring, an e-Billing system is also on the cards.