Interview by Engr Asghar Hayat.
Engr Mukhtar Arshad is serving as Chief Engineer with National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK). His early schooling is from Bakkhar. He topped in intermediate examination in whole town. After completing FSc., he was lucky to secure admission in University of Engineering & Technology Lahore in Civil Engineering. During his life as engineering student, he remained President of Bakkhar Student Union for four years and conducted several social activities and gatherings during this tenure. Beside a shining student in studies, he remained inter university champion of Badminton. “I had a great interest in highways and building construction and I chose my final year project on these topics” said Engr Mukhtar Arshad while remembering his university life.
While sharing his early career life he told to Engineering Cap that soon after assuming the charge at NESPAK he was honored to work at a 150 KM road at his home town Mianwali and Bakkhar. He also served as Deputy Director in local government department of Government of Punjab on deputation basis. He worked in Bahawalpur and Multan on Southern Punjab Basic Urban Services Project. Project included sewerage treatment plants, slaughter houses and water supply schemes in six districts. On meritorious service for this project, Government of Punjab awarded him a gold medal in 2011. Engr Mukhtar also served in Ministry of Industries on Water Management and water filtration plant projects. He remained Project Director in UET Taxila on deputation basis in 2011 & 2012 and completed many important development projects there. On the basis of his services University Committee selected him as Member Quality Assurance Committee.
Q: You have served in many organizations at planning side, what do you think, is there any lack of planning in our system? Why we are lagging behind?
I think we are not only weak at planning side but also weak at communication and coordination side. Let talk about NESPAK, suppose we have been assign with a task, the all other organizations associated with task have very poor communication with us, sometimes organizations and officials don’t own that task. We bear lot of delay and loss due to lack of planning and communication. There should be proper feasibility study of the project, then PC-1 should be prepared, all aspects should be analyzed.
Q:It is seen that we spend huge money on projects and after some years we find that it must be altered, it is not workable for long time?
The vision for project should be long term, If I am utilizing resources and preparing a project for 5 years and 10 years, why not I should be allowed to spend little more money, and prepare it for 25 or 30 years. Maximum output should be achieved by spending less money.
Q:NESPAK is an old consultant, now you are facing competition in this field?
Now there are new consultants are in the market. They don’t have capacity of design, workforce etc. they acquire project at less rate than NESPAK and prepare design from somewhere else, survey from somewhere else, they don’t have their own expertise. We have separate divisions for this purpose, we make sure quality and complete project within time. Whereas other consultants don’t complete project within time because they hire services of other organizations, in this way both quality and timeline are compromised. We have completed all major projects like Metro, Orange train before time and there is no compromise in quality.
Q: You have visited foreign countries, what do you think that where we are lagging, which thing is making difference?
In foreign they have new things, new ideas, here we have complicated system that is least helpful to implement new ideas. Here the procedural way is very much complicated; we cannot get desired results even by implementing new ideas. Here the departments especially should do this on fast track basis so that desired results should be achieved.
Q: You are telling that it is difficult to implement new ideas here in Pakistan, how can we get rid over this problem?
We here in NESPAK are hiring experts from foreign, which will help in training our staff. We here give departmental training, but foreign training is very much helpful. Foreign experts will train them how to work on new ideas. In this way, these trainings will be helpful in collective mind changing. What our government do, they send only few officers to foreign for training but on return they cannot implement these new things and new ideas. The vision of all employees of a department can be changed by this type of training i.e hiring foreign experts and focusing on collective mind changing.
Q: What is role of Head of Organization you think for working on new things, new ideas and establishing new vision?
Our new MD Dr Tahir Mahmood Ayaz is focusing on new visions. He has also introduced high level of courses from sub engineer to top management. Our head of Islamabad office and vice president Tahir Shamshad has been in CDA and other organizations and he is also appreciating new ideas. He has given free hand to our teams, we share ideas with him. We notice many new practices by our competitive consultants and share it with our top management; they always appreciate this and give task to work on it. I think role of head of organization is very much important in working on new things and ideas and in building new vision.
Q: How much change you feel after the inauguration of CPEC in the construction industry?
I want to say that this is a big change, Engineers are lucky that such a huge project has been inaugurated. Construction industry will get boost by this project. Young engineers are not interested in giving license they are interested in work. Industrial zones will be formed all across the motorway. Involvement of private sector is very much important; private sector should be involved on BOT basis.
Q: We are self Sufficient in Construction Industry Material? But not self sufficient in production of Machinery for construction industry?
Now the trend is changing and many organizations are preparing the machinery. Government should help those organizations which are preparing this machinery. It should give incentives to these organizations. Even NESPAK’s mechanical wing is very strong. If government provides us incentives we can prepare machinery here.