(MENAFN - Pajhwok Afghan News) KABUL
Since 2006, the 233-kilometer segment of the Afghanistan's Ring Road between Qaisar and Laman has been funded by five separate grants from the Asian Development Bank totaling $721 million.
In a review, SIGAR said as of September 2017, the Afghan Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) had disbursed $249 million of the ADB grant funds to build this section of the road, but contractors had only achieved 15 percent construction progress.
From March 2014 through September 2017, no physical progress was made on the route, the watchdog said, adding the delay almost certainly eroded much of the limited work that had been completed prior to that period.
The project was plagued by security challenges, poor contractor performance, and a lack of capacity within MoPW to manage large construction contracts, the SIGAR review said.
These issues led to repeated failed efforts and the termination of two contracts for the construction of the road.
In November 2008, three local staff of an engineering consulting firm were abducted, and one was killed. In February 2009, work was suspended at the site due to security concerns, and 16 subcontractor employees were abducted just a little over a month later.
Another contract was terminated after no paved roads were constructed and design work was incomplete after nearly three years.
Despite receiving approximately 46% of the contract's value, only 15% of the work was completed. The joint venture also failed to pay subcontractors an estimated $25.5 million.
SIAGAR said contemporaneous project reports stated that security problems throughout the proposed project area contributed to unsuccessful attempts to solicit qualified bidders for construction contracts.
'We remain unconvinced that the security situation, even with a change in contractor's security posture, is somehow now more manageable, given that the percentage of districts under insurgent control or influence has doubled since 2015.'