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US Funds Afghan Hospital With Incorrect Emergency Exit Signs

Photo: SIGAR/Flickr

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American taxpayers spent $14.6 million on a new Afghanistan hospital with emergency exit signs pointing the wrong way.

The hospital also has leaking roofs and a sprinkler system with no water pump or nozzles, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said Friday. investigators found the shoddy conditions when they visited Gardez Hospital, a hospital SIGAR isn’t sure the Afghan government has the resources or ability to operate, according to a new report.

“Now that the Gardez hospital has been transferred to the Ministry of Public Health, SIGAR is concerned about whether the Afghan government will be able to provide adequate funding to operate and maintain the hospital at full capacity,” a summary of the report said. “The Afghan government estimates it will cost $2.3 million annually to operate and maintain the 100-bed Gardez hospital, which is almost four times the $600,000 annual cost to operate the 70-bed hospital that it is replacing.”

The hospital took five years to finish and ran $1.1 million over its $13.5 million budget.

Friday’s report followed up on an October, 2013, inspection that found the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — using U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds — overpaid the hospital contractor, Sayed Bilal Sadath Construction, by at least half a million dollars.

IOM terminated its contract with that company and hired another Afghan firm, Rahman Noori Construction Company, to finish the job. (RELATED: U.S. Has No Clue Where All The Hospitals It Funded For Afghanistan Are) 

That company also failed to build a safe hospital.

SIGAR investigators in their more recent inspection found the following deficiencies:

  • A lack of emergency lighting
  • Ceilings unable to endure earthquakes
  • Missing fire alarms
  • Cracked roadways and sidewalks
  • Cracked plaster and paint
  • A steam broiler with missing and damaged parts

SIGAR told USAID’s mission director for Afghanistan to make sure IOM and the contractor fix those problems, and determine whether the Afghan government has the funds to operate the hospital.

The U.S. has wasted untold billions on Afghanistan reconstruction, according to SIGAR. Americans have spent $113 billion rebuilding Afghanistan since 2009, more than the U.S. spent rebuilding Europe after World War II, adjusted for inflation.

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