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Inspector General reports confirm CorpWatch story on Afghan power plant

Posted by Pratap Chatterjee on February 9th, 2010

Three independent investigations have confirmed a CorpWatch investigation into a $305 million USAID project to build a diesel-fueled power plant in Kabul (see the original article here: "Black & Veatch's Tarakhil Power Plant: White Elephant in Kabul").

I've written an updated news story that is available from Inter Press Service.

Two of the independent investigations were published in mid-January by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. You can also download the reports from CorpWatch's website -- the first examines the Tarakhil plant and the second one examines the broader problems for the Afghan electricity sector. A third report on the failures of USAID projects in the Afghan electricity sector was published earlier by the USAID Inspector General, and comes to the same conclusions.

Notably the three reports do not address the issue of nepotism within the Afghan government. For more on how the family of the vice-president of Afghanistan profited from the electricity sector project, see this story: "Paying Off the Warlords."

Following up on our August 2009 feature, Jack Currie, the project manager for Black & Veatch's Tarakhil power plant, wrote CorpWatch in November to say that he was not dismissed from the Qudas project in Iraq but "left after my stint was complete due to family matters, pressures of being in a war zone."

He also added that the commissioning and operation of the Qudas plant in Iraq was 'challenged' because it did not have the correct quality fuel available to run the new engines, the new engines were designed to run on naptha, which was not available at the time, and the crude oil used caused significant problems. Black & Veatch was asked to start up engines that were installed by the Iraqis -- and despite having no drawings or manuals managed to get them up and running.