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News | June 3, 2008

Progress stems from key Afghan meeting

By Sgt. Jessica Dahlberg , 382nd Public Affairs Detachment

Governor Abubaker and Air Force Lt. Col. William Andersen discuss construction and provincial reconstruction team-related topics at the Governor's Compound in the Mahmood Raqi district, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, May 29. (U.S. Army photo/Army Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg)
Governor Abubaker and Air Force Lt. Col. William Andersen discuss construction and provincial reconstruction team-related topics at the Governor’s Compound in the Mahmood Raqi district, Kapisa province, Afghanistan, May 29. (U.S. Army photo/Army Sgt. Jessica R. Dahlberg)

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (June 2, 2008) — Parliament Leaders, Village Elders and other government officials attend a meeting at the Governor’s Compound in the district of Mahmood Raqi, located in the Kapisa province, Afghanistan, to discuss recent issues that have arisen with construction contractors, May 29.

 

 The meeting was held in the Revenue Building, and the first speaker was the governor of Kapisa, Governor Abubaker.  Abubaker brought to attention the problems the people of the Kapisa Province have been having with the contractors.  The contractors have been using low quality materials, they have been doing a poor job on construction projects and they were given the job when they were not fully capable of finishing it, said Abubaker. With about 20 construction projects, that include roads and schools, it is important that the work done is quality work.

 

The way things were previously done was that the governor’s office and the Provincial Development Council would get together and prioritize projects by each sector of the province. The PDC is made up of Line Directors, who are appointed officials in charge of various departments. Once they had the top construction projects they wanted to be completed they brought it to Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team’s attention for funding.

 

Under this system, the individuals among each level of the government were not clearly communicating and no one was representing the people from the villages.

 

Since no one was representing the local Afghan villagers, the meeting was used as the stepping stone to a new plan that will include every level of government.

 

The first step was prioritizing projects. Instead of the line directors prioritizing by sector, they will all meet and do it as a province. That will help decide what is best for everyone all around, not just the people in that one area.

 

When the decision has been made about which projects the line directors want worked on, advertising will start to go out that these jobs are available.

 

To be considered to do the job, a contractor will have to submit a bid. Then interviews will be held with the contractors to see who is awarded the job.   “The contracts shouldn’t just be selected by the PRT,” said Lt. Col. William Andersen, commander of the Bagram PRT. “We don’t live here, the Afghanistan government officials do. They know the capabilities of the contractors and they know the people.”  The contractor will be the most fully capable local contractor. The PRT wants the contractor to be local because that means the contractor will hire from the local population, which will help the economy, said Capt. David Scott, an engineer with the Bagram PRT.

 

The members of the meeting also called for monitoring of the construction projects all the way through.

 

Senator Abdul Shakur suggested that at the beginning of the project a government official should double check and make sure the contractor has the ability to complete the project. If the contractor is capable let him start working, but go check on the contractor in the middle of the project to ensure the quality of the work that has already been finished, and pay the contractor half of his salary. Then, at the end, before the contractor can get the other half of his money, a government official has to approve work of the project.

 

An Afghanistan engineer was brought up during the conclusion speech by Governor Abubaker, and Abubaker told him in a symbolic gesture that he now has the authority to monitor and inspect all projects.

 

“(Until now), it was very rare that you see this kind of meeting among all government officials,” said Capt. Colin Hughes, a member of the Bagram PRT.  A major step has been taken in the way Afghanistan government leaders conduct business with each other. They came together when a problem was occurring that was having a negative effect on their people and had a solution within a few hours.