Over the past decade of war America has spent billions of dollars trying to rebuild Afghanistan, and much of this money has gone into a black hole and ending up in defense contractors pockets. The new Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Spoko, recently told a Washington, D.C. audience the depth of the waste and incompetence that has characterized America’s attempt to rebuild the country:
This was a multi-building garrison, and it was supposed to be completed in June of 2009. But in April 2010, it still was not completed.
To make matters worse, the construction had been completed — that had been completed had major problems. Roofs were sagging or collapsing because the contractor had used improper welding and priming techniques.
Worse yet, the site was constructed on unstable soil. And because the contractor had not adequately prepared the site and stabilized the soil and constructed proper foundation, the buildings were collapsing.
They were literally sinking into the ground, causing structural failure and making them unusable.
In 2010, we inspected the site. We found the problems, and we told the Defense Department to fix it. They promised to do so.
However, last year we returned, and we found the site in deplorable condition. Although some structures had been fixed, the underlying problems of the collapsible soil had not.
As a result of the soil instability, buildings had failed, buildings had sunk, holes had developed, and more facilities faced likelihood of structural failure.
We saw gaping holes in buildings, because of the structural failures, so large you could stick your arm through the side and walls of the buildings. The sinkholes were so bad that the transformers and electrical systems used to supply power to the facilities were about to collapse into the soil.
Moreover, even those facilities that didn’t have deficiencies were not being used for the intended purpose or were not used at all.
Now, I’d like to report that the contractors responsible for this problem were held accountable. But that’s not the case.
Instead, as we seem to be finding time and time again, for some inexplicable reason, which they still haven’t been able to provide justification for, the Defense Department released the contractor from all further obligations under the contract, including all warranties to fix all the problems, and paid the contractor in full.
Photo: A local contractor speaks to an interpreter about the status of the upgrades to the wheat distribution center. (Photo from US Marines)
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