ASADABAD (Pajhwok): Contracting companies have disappeared into thin air, leaving incomplete construction work on more than a dozen schools in eastern Kunar province, Pajhwok Afghan News has reliably learnt.
Contracts for the construction of 14 schools were awarded between 2007 and 2012 years, with several firms receiving a lot of funds. But the companies did not complete construction work.
The bidding process was conducted by the Ministry of Education. Pajhwok has received documents showing the Education Department in Kunar has written letters to MoE on the inordinate delay in construction work on the schools.
But the letters have been unanswered so far. Among the schools, one is situated in Narang, two are in Marawara, three in Ghaziabad, one in Shigal, two in Dangam, two in Narai and one in Asmar. Seventy percent work on some schools s yet to be completed.
A 5,110,988 afghanis contract for the Kodu Primary School in Narang district was signed in 2010 between the MoE and the Sapi Construction Company.
Only 63 percent of construction work has been carried out in the past nine years.
Another document regarding the construction of a seminary in Marawara district shows a contract worth 6,228,595 afghanis was awarded on February 18, 2008 to the Sharif Azizi Construction Company. But 15 years on, the building remains incomplete.
Contracts for three schools — Drin, Saokai, Salamzi — signed with UNICEF’s branch for Nuristan province. Ghaziabad was then part of Nuristan province.
Twenty-five percent of work on the Karborai School in Shigal district remains to be done. The document indicate contract for the school was inked by MoE with the Rasoul Azizi Company involving 5,209,111 afghanis in 2011. Only 75 percent work on this school has been done.
The documents received by Pajhwok Afghan News also show $81,353 contracts for some seminaries destroyed as a result of fighting in Dangam district were awarded to the Central Asia Organisation in May 2012. About 89 percent of rehabilitation work has been completed.
In addition, a 5,191,556 afghanis contract for the construction of Baidad Girls’ School in Dangam district was signed with the Sharq Construction Company in March 2010. Only 75 percent work has been done.
The contract for the Sher Gul Primary School in Narai district was awarded to Central Asia Organisation in May 2012. Under the $79,554 deal, only 75 percent work has been completed.
The Chinar Mangal Primary School contract worth 4,499,791 afghanis in the Marawari district was inked in Kabul with the Rasoul Azizi Construction Company in 2010.
A 5,110,988 afghanis contract for the Dambro Primary School in Asmar district was inked with the Muttahida Sapi Company by the MoE. Only 31 percent of work has been carried out hitherto.
Contract for the Shah Maseer Intermediate School worth six million afghanis was inked in 2014 while the Pushd School contract of nine million afghanis in Sarkano district was yet to be fully implemented.
Kunar education officials say that they have provided all information regarding work on the 13 schools to the MoE but they had not received any response to several letters.
The ministry also provided no information to the Kunar Education Department about the amount of money so far paid to contractors.
Education Director Mujib Rahman Hamdard told Pajhwok Afghan News all contracts had been awarded in Kabul by the ministry and they received letters about the projects.
Education Ministry’s Survey and Procurement Department once assessed the construction of these buildings, but the outcome was not shared with the Kunar Education Department, he said.
Pajhwok Afghan News has also obtained copies of the letters sent ny the Education Department to the ministry concerned.
Kunar officials claimed several firms had signed contracts for the 13 schools, exploiting their links with senior officials. However, they left their work halfway through.
Deputy Governor Dr. Gul Mohammad Baidar acknowledged the contracts were awarded to companies on the basis of favouritism and nepotism.
He alleged the companies received more money for less work and left the construction of school buildings unfinished.
The Governor’s House and the Education Department have sent several letters to the ministry on the issue. But the ministry did not bother to answer the communication, he lamented.
Baidar suggested that future contracts should be awarded to local companies so the administration would be able to monitor their work and quality.
Provincial council & people
The Provincial Council also expressed concern at the situation, saying the matter had been taken up several times with local education officials, who responded they could not deal with the issue.
Jamaldin Sayar, the provincial council secretary, said: “We have repeatedly asked the Governor’s House and Education Department about the delay, but they told us contracts for the 13 schools were signed with companies by the Ministry of Education and they have no information in this regard.”
Sayed Ikramuddin, principal of the Kudo Girls School in Narang said construction of the school was initiated in 2012. He added 60 percent of construction had been completed but the company had left its work unfinished. Students of the school are currently studying in a rented house.
Delbar Bajauri, a civil society activist in Kunar, said the school buildings would be ruined, if not completed. The money spent would thus go down the drain, he warned.
Another civil society activist, Mohammad Shoaib Gharwal, recalled residents were happy when the construction of the schools got under way.
Even a person in Marawara district donated his land for one of the schools, which is yet to be constructed. The procrastination has left people disillusioned, he said.
Ministry of Education
Kabir Haqmal, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, acknowledged the issue and said they had started an investigation. “If the problem is linked to the company, it would be punished. If the problem relates to the ministry, we would allocate budget for completing the schools.”
He added completing the construction process remained a top priority for the MoE.
There are 512 schools in Kunar but half of them are without buildings. Around 170,000 students, one-third of them girls, are enrolled in these schools.