Afghan war waste: $500k, adobe-style police base melted in rain - report (PHOTOS)

AFP Photo / Shah Marai
A $500,000 Afghan police training center contracted by the US fell apart four months after completion based on faulty construction, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report on money wasted amid the war effort.

The adobe-style brick buildings were built to emulate an Afghan village in order for police to train for search operations. Yet, four months after its completion, the roof and walls began “melting" in the rain, according to the report by John Sopko, the US government’s special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR).

“Therefore, although this project may have been well intentioned, the fact that the Afghans had to demolish and rebuild the DFR (dry fire range) is not only an embarrassment, but, more significantly, a waste of US taxpayers’ money,” the inspector general’s office said, according to AFP.

The report alleged that the US did not adequately supervise or hold to account the selected Afghan contractor -- Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company -- which failed to follow contract and building requirements.

The watchdog’s report is the latest in a string of accounts of American taxpayer dollars wasted on Afghanistan war projects, including expenditures like a $34 million unused base and patrol boats for use in the landlocked nation.

Sopko said previously that “billions of dollars” of the more than $100 billion spent to rebuild the nation have been wasted or stolen.

The amount the US has spent to reconstruct Afghanistan has, adjusted for inflation, cost more than the Marshall Plan that rebuilt western Europe after World War II.

“Time and again, I am running into people from USAID, State and the Pentagon who think they are in Kansas [not Afghanistan],” he said. “My auditors tell me things [about spending plans] and I say, ‘you have to be making this up, this is Alice in Wonderland’.”

Sopko’s office reported in October that 16 planes that were bought for the Afghan Air Force, costing almost $500 million, were turned into scrap metal valued at just $32,000.

‘Disintegrating’ walls

The police training center in eastern Wardak province was awarded for nearly $500,000 in May 2012, and the construction company was paid in full when the buildings were finished in October of that year.

The police center “was not constructed according to contract requirements, and our analysis showed that, as a result, water penetration caused its walls to begin disintegrating within 4 months of when the US government accepted the project...” the SIGAR report said.

The report offered photos of the complete buildings just after construction, and then of the dilapidated structures a few months later, ravaged by leaks and disintegrating walls.

The roofs, the report stated, were installed without gravel and asphalt, and without a slope that would allow water to drain properly. The also company used smaller, weaker bricks than the contract demanded, “made mostly of sand with little clay content and that the lack of adequate clay material caused the bricks to fail when water penetration occurred.”

The US eventually deemed the structures unfit for use. The Afghan government has since demolished the buildings with plans to rebuild the training center.

The inspector general called on US Central Command to try to retain the funds if possible, to determine how the construction was so badly botched, and to take disciplinary measures against contracting officials. Central Command said it would take actions to correct the mistakes.