Iraq rebuilding fiasco

US contractor slammed by report for under-performing on ‘reconstruction’ jobs

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By  Christopher Sell Published  October 7, 2006

The US contractor that spectacularly botched the construction of a US $75 million (IQD110 billion) police academy in Baghdad has also under-performed on 13 out of 14 projects reviewed by US federal authorities.

Parsons Corporation, a California-based company was supposed to build numerous facilities in the $21 billion US-led reconstruction programme including fire stations, border forts and healthcare centres, yet the one project that was being constructed properly has been taken off its hands by auditors due to spiralling costs.

Stuart W Bowen Jr, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said Parsons had failed in its responsibility to manage the work. Bowen said his office will return to Iraq in the coming months to review all of Parsons’ jobs, which total $1 billion.

A report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found that the Baghdad Police College posed a health risk after human waste leaked through the ceilings of the student barracks.

The report stated: “We identified construction deficiencies of such magnitude as to require prompt attention and separate reporting.

“Specifically, the improperly fabricated wastewater plumbing within the student barracks could potentially result in a reduction in the structural slabs’ load carrying capacity as well as environmental and health hazards to the students, instructors and workers at the Baghdad Police College.”

The report’s findings reveal that water damage occurred primarily because floor drains were not adequately sealed to the floor surface and/or properly affixed to adjacent fittings with the proper adhesive, causing water to drain outside as opposed to inside the collectors.

The volume of material was so extensive that it soaked through the reinforced concrete floors, causing deterioration of the reinforcing steel and leaching of the chemical salts that are necessary for the proper strengthening of the concrete.

The director of the Baghdad Police College is also concerned that rust, mould, urine and faecal matter caught within the floors presents a significant threat to the health of students and staff.

Parsons’ senior vice president Earnest O Robbins II conceded the police academy construction was unacceptable, but told congressmen that poor work by Iraqi subcontractors, tight deadlines and a deteriorating security situation were to blame. The report declined to identify the Iraqi subcontractors responsible due to ‘security reasons’.

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