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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Iraq reconstruction 'not working'
Baghdad airport
Even flagship projects like Baghdad airport are not functioning properly
Six out of eight Iraqi reconstruction projects hailed as successes by the US government are in fact failures, a US federal investigation has found.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir) examined works including a hospital, a barracks and Baghdad international airport.

Blaming ongoing unrest and spiralling corruption they said most were falling apart within as little as six months.

Faulty plumbing and wiring and looting have reportedly worsened the situation.

Responsibility

Corruption amongst Iraqi officials is cited as one of the main causes for the chaos.

According to the report $5bn is lost annually to the fraud and abuse which "afflicts virtually every Iraqi ministry", particularly the oil, interior and defence ministries.

In response to the report, the acting director of the State Department's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office said that several of the issues cited were the responsibility of Iraqis.

"Recommendations such as how much water to use in cleaning floors [...] could be deemed as an intrusion on, or attempt to micro-manage operations of an Iraqi entity that we have no controlling interest over," William Lynch said.

Rise in violence

The report said that the continuing violence gripping Iraq was severely jeopardising the building and maintaining of facilities.

The US defence department says there are on average 1.4 attacks on critical electricity, water, oil and gas facilities each week.

And in addition "repair teams sent in after attacks continue to face threats, including kidnapping and murder," the Sigir report says.

These first inspections indicate that the concerns... about the Iraqis sustaining our investments in these projects are valid
Sigir chief Stuart Bowen
In a separate development, an annual state department report on global terrorism said that 45% of terror attacks around the world in 2006 took place in Iraq.

The report said that worldwide there were 14,338 attacks, not including attacks on US troops in Iraq, a rise of 29% on the previous year.

Sigir was set up by the US Congress in 2004 after reports of widespread fraud and waste in US reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

It publishes quarterly reports on the situation, most of which have complained about a serious lack of progress despite $20bn (10bn) having been spent.

Its latest report, published on Monday, is no different.

Long term concerns

Of the eight projects inspected, some just six months after being declared a success by the US officials, six were no longer functioning properly, the report said.

At Baghdad international airport the inspectors discovered that $11.8m had been spent on new electricity generators, but that already $8.6m-worth were not working.

It was a similar scene at a barracks built for special forces in Baghdad where four large generators, each costing $50,000, were not working.

And at a maternity and children's hospital in Irbil a sophisticated oxygen distribution system was not used because staff did not trust it.

In the same hospital needles and bandages were tossed into the sewer system, which frequently blocked, because an incinerator installed to deal with such waste was not in use.

According to the report, this was "because those initially trained to operate the incinerator were no longer employed at the hospital" and because the door to the incinerator was padlocked and no-one knew who had the key.

And at a recruiting centre in the town of Hilla faulty wiring was rife and blocked drains had caused the bathrooms to warp, inspectors said.

The Sigir team said that the speed and scale of the deterioration was so bad that it was doubtful whether some of the projects would even survive.

"These first inspections indicate that the concerns... about the Iraqis sustaining our investments in these projects are valid," Sigir chief Stuart Bowen said.






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