Large-scale corruption alleged in Marja projects
LASHKARGAH (PAN): There has been blatant corruption in newly-completed projects, including a multimillion dollars building for a police headquarters, in the Marja district of southern Helmand province, officials acknowledged on Thursday.
The police office that was inaugurated a day earlier cost $10 million, said Mohammad Fahim Musazai, the town's administrative chief, who alleged massive fund embezzlement in the high-cost project.
Fahim claimed that there had been corruption at a huge scale in almost every project that had been carried out in the district over the past three years. As a result, he lamented, work quality had been far from satisfactory.
The official said the government, with the assistance of donor s, had invested more than $180 million in several development schemes in the town, but the projects were plagued by wide spread anomalies.
"In almost every project, low-quality material was used. It’s a matter of great concern that we have been unable, despite holding out pledges at international forums, to overcome irregularities in utilising funds," the district chief remarked.
A community council member, Haji Baz Gul, told Pajhwok $10 million was a huge amount for building several structures like the police headquarters. "Still quality of the project is scruffy," the public representative remarked.
Tribal elder Haji Kattar, who heads a local police force, asked the central government to investigate the claims of corruption. He said millions of dollars had been pocketed on projects, including schools, roads and irrigation schemes, in Marja over the past years.
Helmand police chief, Col. Abdul Nabi Ilham, said a contract for the police headquarters had been signed between donors and a construction firm in Kabul. He had little information about the funds. Ilham hoped the new building would help resolve problems police faced earlier due to a space shortage.
Residents complained their calls for project contracts between the provincial administration and local firms were yet to be considered. This could help transparency in spending on such schemes besides preventing irregularities.
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