Why have people with no technical expertise been appointed KWSB directors

The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) has expressed serious reservations over appointment of officials lacking engineering degrees on positions requiring engineering expertise.

Speaking to Daily Times, Najamuddin Sheikh, a member of the executive committee of the PEC, said that the recent appointments of the project directors of the Greater Karachi Bulk Water Supply Scheme K-IV Phase-I and Greater Karachi Sewerage Plant (S-III) were in violation of the PEC Act of 1976.

He said the council would soon send a delegation to Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah to convey its reservations. He said a letter had already been written to Prime Minster, Shahid Khaqan Abbassi on the matter.

Assad Zamin a BPS-19 official, was posted as the project director of K-IV Phase-I, and Noor Ahmed, also a BPS-19 official, of S-III on January 31. “These two officials hold simple graduate degrees with no relevant engineering knowledge and expertise. They have been posted in place of Saleem Siddiqui and Imtiaz Ahmad Magsi who held relevant engineering degrees and experience,” Sheikh said.

Regarding the appointments in the KWSB, a senior officer in Sindh government, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two officers were appointed on directions of Muzaffar Owais alias Tappi, the former minister of the Local Government Department, since he was a major shareholder in the company that has the contract for the S-III project.

The contract for the K-IV Phase-I is with the Frontier Works Organisation. Both projects got started with a delay of more than eight years and as a result their cost got escalated to around Rs 92 billion, based on the figures quoted by the Sindh chief minister at a recent Supreme Court hearing.

Their original cost had been estimated at around Rs 7 billion (SIII) and Rs27 billion (K-IV).

Almost a year ago, Hashim Raza Zaidi was appointed as the managing director of the KWSB on SC directions with specific instructions to turn around the organisation so that water woes of the residents of Karachi could be addressed.

Meanwhile, the PEC official says that they have been receiving complaints from graduate engineers about violations of the PEC Act’s Section 27(5A) in government appointments not just in Sindh but in other provinces as well.

Sheikh said the law was clear that no person shall perform as a professional engineer, unless registered as an engineer or holding any post in an engineering organisation where he has to perform professional engineering work.”

These concerns were the subject of a letter dispatched by Jawed Salim Qureshi, the PEC chairman, to the Prime Minister’s Office a couple of months ago. In the letter, a copy of which is available with Daily Times, the PEC has expressed concerns over the appointment of officials with non-engineers education and professional backgrounds on engineering posts in government departments.

The letter says that the problem isn’t just restricted to Sindh. The chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, responsible for executing infrastructure projects worth billion of dollars is a non-cadre official, according to the letter.

Similarly, it highlights that secretaries of Irrigation and Communication and Works (C&W) Departments in Punjab, KPK, and Balochistan, DGs of provincial development authorities, the CEO of PESCO, the MD Sui Southern Gas Company Limited are all required to have engineering education and experience under Sections 2(XIII) and 27(5A) of PEC Act.

The PEC’s mandate is to regulate engineering profession including registration of engineers, accreditation of engineering education, construction and consultancy sectors.

Daily Times