A highway in Afghanistan, partly funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars, is largely unbuilt after 12 years of construction work according to inspectors who say it might never be completed.
The 145-mile section of road, from Qeysar in northern Faryab province to Laman in western Badghis province, was supposed to form part of the country’s orbital freeway — a major economic thoroughfare connecting major cities.
But only 15 percent of the expressway is finished, even though one-third of the budget has been spent.
Auditors blame the country’s increasingly dire security situation, as well as more conventional problems such as local contractor incompetence.
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The violence is so bad that Afghan officials are struggling to find any bidders willing to work on the road, SIGAR found.
The Taliban controls 14.5 percent of Afghanistan’s districts — the highest level recorded in recent years, and the country is plagued by attacks and bombings by ISIS and the Taliban that have claimed hundreds of lives.
Washington is the second-biggest contributor to the Asian Development Bank, which allocates reconstruction funds. The bank has authorized $721 million for the Qeysar to Laman road since 2006, of which $249 million, had been spent by the end of 2017.
The project has been dogged by so many problems that there was no physical progress at all from March 2014 through September 2017, SIGAR found. In fact, the delay “almost certainly eroded much of the limited work that had been completed prior to that period,” it said.
One contractor was fired after it failed to construct a single inch of highway over a three-year period but left $25.5 million in outstanding payments to subcontractors.
“While we hope for success, we are left without any indication that the circumstances have improved sufficiently to warrant a high degree of confidence that the project will be completed, that more money will not be wasted, or that more security incidents will not occur,” SIGAR said.