KABUL (Pajhwok): Following the dissolution the Water and Power Ministry and shifting of its projects to three different agencies, work on some schemes has come to a halt and a payment of more than $1 million to a company has been delayed, Pajhwok’s findings show.
The Ministry of Water and Power (MoWP) was divided into the National Water Management Authority (NWMA) and the National Energy Services Regulatory Authority (NESRA) in compliance with a decree of President Ashraf Ghani in January of 2020.
Subsequently, some of the projects initiated by the ministry were handed over to Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat (DABS) — the power utility.
Ahmad Sair Nekzad, spokesman for NESRA, told Pajhwok Afghan News with the dissolution of the ministry, two of its projects were transferred to the Authority and both were in the process of procurement.
Nizamuddin Khpalwak, speaking for NWMA, said about 434 dam, canal and retaining wall projects had been handed over to the agency. With 266 completed last year, work is underway on 168 others. He did not provide further details.
Shah Mohammad Nekzad, head of DABS projects, confirmed the transfer of 21 schemes to the power utility after the ministry’s dissolution.
The projects are being implemented in Ghor, Nangarhar, Laghman, Balkh, Herat, Badghis, Panjsher, Daikundi, Kunar, Parwan, Logar and Maidan Wardak provinces.
A document shared by DABS with Pajhwok on March 3 shows the hydropower projects include those being implemented in the Charkh district of Logar, Manogi district of Kunar and Chak district of Maidan Wardak.
A solar power project in Daikundi, a 10MW solar power transmission line from the Gulbahar substation to Panjsher and a 10MW solar power project for Khost, Ghor and Paktika provinces have seen no progress after the ministry’s dissolution.
According to the document, work is ongoing on nine different projects and five have been executed. At least one project has been canceled as its technical and financial documents were not finalised.
However, Nekzad insisted that lack of progress in implementing the projects did not mean a halt to them. Some of the projects, whose work progress percentage remained unchanged, were with the procurement agency for extending their timescales while others were faced with legal issues.
A reliable source, meanwhile, confided to Pajhwok Afghan News that work on some of the 12 projects had been stopped.
The source claimed DABS had “unjustifiably” suspended payments to some contractors– who had even done some work on the projects.
Amanullah Ghalib, former director of the power utility, acknowledged work on some projects had stopped. But he did not know the number of projects, their problems or current status.
$1.4m payment suspended
Bezhan Qaderi, project coordinator for an India’s Supreme Company Private Ltd, said one of the transferred projects was the Manogi scheme in Kunar and another envisaged power supply to 21 villages of Badghis. Their contracts were signed with the company in March 2018, but work on them has now stopped.
Under the supervision and of the now defunct ministry, work on these projects was progressing well. With the transfer of these projects to the power utility, the company had run into problems, he said.
The firm had sent nine invoices related to the projects to DABS within a year, but they had not been executed yet, he lamented.
He also handed over copies of the invoices to Pajhwok, indicating that more than one million US dollars should be paid to the firm for the work done on the two projects.
Qaderi complained the power utility had not yet issued a letter of credit to the company. “Companies can easily use the account (credentials) to transport goods and receive money from abroad. But DABS has also delayed this.”
Under Article 100 of the procurement procedure, if the terms of the contract do not specify the time of payment, the agency must pay within 30 working days of receiving the contractor’s invoice. The article adds if the agency does not pay on time, it must pay the penalty for the delay.
“The Supreme Company did not stop work on the projects for more than a year, using its internal financial resources. But when the payment was further delayed, the firm was forced to suspend work after November 2020,” Qaderi explained.
The Ministry of Finance, in a proposal approved by the president on February 13 this year, had said: “The invoices issued before the dissolution of MoWP have now been entrusted to the power utility for processing with the approval of National Water Regulator Authority.”
Under the agreements, the projects must have been completed within 18 months (until February, 2020.). Not only their timescales were missed, but work on them also come to a standstill.
Qaderi revealed DABS had twice forced the survey and design the for Badghis project on Supreme Company, wasting the utility’s 139 days and incurring additional costs. He continued the power utility had also approved the first survey and design.
But Sham Mohammad Nekzad, in charge of DABS projects, said over $1 million could not be paid to the company because they had not received the budget code form MoF after MoWP’s dissolution.
On the other hand, Farid Nowkhat, the MoF public relations director, said budget codes for the projects had been transferred to DABS. The projects were included in the budget for the current fiscal year.
He said the Finance Ministry was waiting for the power utility to go through the administrative stages of the project development plan and other documents before it paid the contractor.
Nekzad did not have any information about the second survey and design for the Badghis project. He suggested the company’s media office should talk about it.
Pajhwok repeatedly tried to contact the contracting firm for comments, but did not succeed.