Iraq reconstruction projects show signs of wear

/ Source: The Associated Press

A severe lack of maintenance appears to be threatening the future usefulness of some of the facilities renovated during the effort to rebuild Iraq, says a new report from the U.S. inspector general monitoring reconstruction.

Inspectors reviewed eight facilities throughout the country, including police stations, a military base, a hospital and a recruiting center. The objective of the review was to determine whether the buildings were operating at full capacity. Inspectors generally found that the facilities met the objectives of their mission, but they also noted signs of deterioration at most sites.

Facilities may not last
For example, at a recruiting center in Al Hilla, inspectors found bathrooms with floors buckled by what appeared to be sewage backups, makeshift electrical wiring and sewage holding tanks that were never evacuated because concrete barriers blocked access to the rear of the building, where the tanks are located. The inspectors concluded that the quality of the recruiting center’s construction met objectives, but that the useful life of the facility would be significantly shortened if the problems were left unresolved.

At a maternity and pediatric hospital in Erbil, inspectors again found a sewer system that was occasionally clogged, possibly as a result of improper disposal of large amounts of medical wastes. During the site visits, inspectors saw needles, bandages and other examples of medical wastes in the sewer system’s traps and septic tank. A new incinerator was not in use because those initially trained in running it were no longer employed. Also, workers were using an excessive amount of water to clean floors, leading to considerable amounts of water being absorbed into the walls.

Signs good and bad at police stations
The inspections were more positive for two police stations that were reviewed — both in Mosul. Both appeared to be able to operate at full capacity, the inspector general said.

At the Gaugli-Asher station, in particular, inspectors said that “full capacity operations over the long term will likely result” if Iraqi police continue to properly use and maintain the building and its equipment.

However, the review of a second station showed that some of the contractor work did not meet requirements; razor wire was secured by sand bags; and no one knew how to fix or run the generator providing electricity.

“As a result, the new generator system, which cost $79,000, is not being used and the repaired and upgraded electrical system and components have been degraded,” inspectors said.