• This Melting Building Pretty Much Sums Up Afghanistan’s Future

    The U.S. just wasted half a million on a melting building.

    An Afghan construction company was given $500,000 dollar to build an operating base for Afghan special forces. But a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reveals that the entire building process was fraught with poor oversight, especially on behalf of the U.S. contracting office responsible. U.S. contracting officials completed seven review visits of the site from July to October in 2012, but neglected to note any building problems in reports — problems which at that time should have been obvious.

    “Notably, the October site visit report indicated that the project was 100 percent complete with no deficiencies or missing items noted,” the SIGAR report states.

    Finally, in early 2013, one U.S. official reported the deficiencies, and an analyst at the U.S. Regional Contracting Center proceeded to conduct a full review, finding that “the facility is completely unsafe…It appears the contractor intentionally used different materials and construction standards to cut costs or/and fraud the government…It is recommended that the contractor completely deconstruct to the foundation and properly construct under close supervision.”

    The contractor, the Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company, made a half-hearted attempt to fix up some of the problems highlighted, but the plans sent to the RCC didn’t address structural issues, instead focusing on inconsequential details, all while the building was still in the process of melting.

    Substandard building materials and poor construction practices by QNCC doomed the project as soon as it got off the ground. QNCC used the wrong materials for the roofing structure of the building and didn’t slope it properly, so water was unable to drain.

    QNCC also used bricks made of sand, mostly devoid of any clay, during construction. The bricks didn’t pass any strength tests. Poor drainage combined with sand bricks meant that as soon as water started dripping down interior and exterior surfaces, the building began to crumble and actually melt.

    In its repair plans, QNCC did not propose to rebuild the facility. Still, for some unknown reason, the RCC gave QNCC the go ahead, even though the officials knew the building needed to be torn down and replaced. More trouble was soon to follow. The repairs were covered under a warranty arrangement, but QNCC failed to seal the roof and prevent any leaks. Further, RCC officials did not verify any of the repairs QNCC claimed to have completed.

    They did not even take photos, since QNCC claimed cameras weren’t allowed on the site, though they declined to give an explanation as to why.

    Soon, the warranty ran out, meaning that QNCC was no longer under any obligation to finish the roof.

    “RCC failed to ensure proper design of the facility and failed to hold the contractor accountable for its work. In particular, RCC accepted work that did not fulfill the requirements of the contract, and then failed to hold the contractor fully accountable for correcting all of the range’s structural deficiencies before the contract warranty expired,” the report confirmed.

    The Afghan Ministry of the Interior provided funds for local authorities to destroy what was left of the “embarrassment…[and] waste of U.S. taxpayers’ money” located in the Wardak province of Afghanistan.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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