|Well-placed sources said that Peshawar Division Commissioner Shahab Ali Shah and officials from the Strategic Support Unit (SSU) at the Chief Minister House have held meetings with both the TransPeshawar CFO Safdar Shabir Awan and GMO Imran Khan on Saturday, requesting them to take back their resignations.
Sources added that during the parleys, the two executives were explained that their decision to quit at this critical juncture could jeopardise the project and promises of the government to complete it in time. They were subsequently requested to withdraw their resignations.
The two executives apparently said that they had resigned out of fear that any incoming chairman of the board would force them to do what Durrani resisted during his tenure. Thus, rather than going to jail by taking a wrong step, the two had decided that it was better to sit at home.
To further persuade the two executives of resuming their work, the Peshawar Development Authority Director General reportedly then invited them to dinner on Sunday.
Sources suggested that the government is keen on keeping Imran in his position owing to the experience he has in this field.
While the GMO may be coveted by the government for his expertise, keeping the CFO is a requirement from the funding partners of the project — the Asian Development Bank (ADB). As per section-7 of schedule-3 of the loan agreement signed between the ADB and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government, no withdrawals shall be made from the loan account to pay for TransPeshawar’s operating costs and goods until TransPeshawar has a qualified and experienced CFO acceptable to the ADB.
And with a hiring freeze imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan across the country, the K-P government will be locked out of hiring a replacement, effectively putting the project on hold until the ban is lifted.
An official of TransPeshawar told The Express Tribune that they expect Reach-3 (BRT section between Aman Chowk and Hayatabad) to be ready by October while the other two portions will take longer to complete.
“All the deadlines for the project were unrealistic. A six month period to build such a mega project is insufficient despite ideal conditions in which there will no hurdles and the construction work is carried out around the clock,” the official stated matter-of-factly, adding that the failure to deliver the bus fleet by April 20 would make no difference on the project.
He explained that it would take six to eight months for the government to build a depot to park these buses, and by that time, if the buses were delivered on the proposed deadline, the body of the vehicles would have rotted by then.
Meanwhile, the K-P government issued a statement from the office of the transport department secretary on Sunday which stated that the resignations of CFO and the GMO were their personal decisions and will not, in any way, hinder the timely completion of the project.
“Teams always come and go. The hiring was done earlier, transparently, on merit following ADB procedures, and a similar process will be adopted for new hiring’s.” the transport secretary added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2018.