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January 9, 2009
Renovation work on the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore has been stopped with immediate effect by the PCB, after the board claimed they had discovered "massive irregularities" in the construction of the far end pavilion. The present administration, led by chairman Ijaz Butt, has placed the blame fully on the men they replaced last August in a strongly-worded, no-holds barred statement.
The work on the stadium had begun in February 2008 and was due to be completed by the end of August, in time for the Champions Trophy, which was eventually postponed. The work had been budgeted originally at Rs 142 million (around US$1.8m), the statement claimed, but had overrun to such an extent that the final projected cost was Rs 471 million (around US$6m). Further, the architect behind the project was said to be a "buddy" of Shafqat Naghmi, the chief operating officer at the time.
"The VIP enclosure at the Gaddafi Stadium was conceived by the previous management of PCB and was a show piece to be ready before the ICC Champions Trophy to be held in September 2008 at a cost of Rs 142 million for usable area of 55, 000 square feet. The architect who was awarded the contract was a close buddy of Shafqat Naghmi," read the statement.
"The design is faulty - huge columns have been constructed which have blocked spectators' view. Hospitality boxes have been ill-conceived and huge dinning room areas have been left at the back of the boxes which have very little utility. There has been a huge cost overrun ... the total has reached staggering figure of Rs 471 million. The whole project is a monumental disaster, utter wastage of PCB funds and is a tribute to the management ego and vision of grandeur.
"The project was to be completed by 31st August 2008. It was sheer negligence and incompetence of the previous management that the project has not been completed in time and there has been a colossal cost increase. The amazing aspect of the whole fraudulent tender is that a hefty advance has already been paid to the contractor."
Naghmi, as well as Ahmar Malik, former GM special projects, are said to have travelled abroad at the board's expense to visit various cricket stadiums as has the architect. The board claims they questioned the architect about the problems with the design, though his reply was only that the design was made according to the clients' instructions. Since the departure of Naghmi last year, the board claims it hasn't been able to find any document approving the revision of costs.
Butt has now sought the services of an independent team of professionals to put a proper cost on the project, the results of which will become clear in two weeks. The audit of all similar infrastructure projects is currently being conducted by the auditor general of Pakistan. The charges are the latest in a series of allegations of financial mismanagement the present administration has made against Nasim Ashraf's board, in particular Naghmi, who, it is claimed, tried to leave board property on his last day with important files and documents.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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