Dam funds being used to pay foreigners
LASHKARGAH (PAN): A huge portion of funds set aside for the rehabilitation of Kajaki dam in southern Helmand province has been spent on funding foreign experts’ salaries, workers claimed on Sunday.
Seven years back, the US approved more than $300 million for installing the power dam’s third turbine, but little progress had been made on the project so far, they told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Currently, the dam has the capacity to generate 32 megawatts of power, a level that will increase to 51 megawatts with the installation of the third turbine, according to officials.
A sum of $110 million is said to have been used to finance the salaries of foreigners on the project, which was previously scheduled to get under way in January. However, there is no sign yet of the it getting off the ground.
Syed Ghulam, who has been associated with the dam for the last 36 years, alleged the required equipment -- transported to the district centre four years ago -- was rusting. Additionally, an amount of $30,000 was expended daily on the so-called international experts, he estimated.
A single cog in the two turbines is yet to be replaced, according to another employee, Imandad, who accused the Afghan government and its international supporters of exhibiting no interest in reconstructing the facility.
The dam was built with fewer resources 40 years ago, but it could not be renovated despite the allocation of much more funds, he regretted. “The foreigners are trying to utilise the funds for other things.”
Energy and Power Minister Ismail Khan recently told lawmakers that insecurity was a major impediment to the project’s execution. But Col. Abdul Nabi Ilham, the provincial police chief, said they were ready to provide security.
Police were willing to transport the turbine to the site without claiming any expenses, he offered. “The road is open and security checkpoints are there. But I fail to understand why the foreigners and Afghan officials concerned continue to raise the bogey of insecurity,” he asked.
Mullah Abdul Razzaq Mazloomyar, the district chief, urged the government to step up reconstruction work on the dam that would supply electricity to Lashkargah and neighbouring Kandahar province, in addition to irrigating agricultural lands in Sangin, Kajaki and Musa Qala districts.
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