Diyala Bridge Cost Overruns
More reader reactions to the Riverbend posting about US over-spending on construction projects in Iraq:
From Nabil al-Tikriti:
“Karen Magoon’s websearch is insufficient proof of the
inaccuracy of the riverbend blog’s claim. I’ve been to Iraq
a number of times, and through my relief work I’ve had quite
a lot of experience dealing with military in the field,
bizarre contracting arrangements, and shady dealings in
non-metropole locales (Somalia, Kosovo, Albania, Iran, Iraq,
etc). In almost everything I’ve seen and experienced, a web
search of the location, contract, or event turns up nothing.
The web remains a woefully incomplete search engine,
relying on whatever information is posted on it. So, while
what Ms. Magoon turned up on the web was valuable, it did
not disprove the riverbend claim…”
and from Sally Ann Quinn:
“I assume we are speaking of the 135 meter span over the Diyala River (tributary to the Tigris) in the southeast sector of Baghdad where there was a hole blown in the deck by retreating Iraqi defenders. There are also severed utility lines passing through the underdeck.
I am skeptical about looking for information on reconstruction contracts such as the New Diyala Bridge in the public record and expecting to find something (i.e. returned by simple query using the Google search engine and a visit to the Halliburton or Bechtel website).
Surfing through construction.com, the Seabee’s site, McGraw Hill and performing search engine retrievals in French and Italian, I read not only mention of road and bridge reconstruction but upgrade to US interstate highway standards. I also read that the Iraqi construction firm Mahmood Bunia and Sons seems to be the beneficiary of multiple contracts. This firm is part of an international consortium headquartered in Singapore and lead by Windmill International Partnership. Further, I read that since there is no banking in Iraq yet, all business in conducted in cash and hence, no paper trail.
If US interstate construction standards are to be applied to highway/bridge reconstruction combined with lack of oversight of a banking paper trail, then this is a invitation for monkey business. Although I cannot justify Riverbend’s claims nor refute Ms. Magoon’s inference, I think there may be something to Riverbend’s statement concerning inflated repair bills. In any case, I’d like to underscore that we’re working with opinion and hearsay without the benefit of a direct line to the Interim Governing Council or Halliburton.
There have been plenty of challenges lately to Riverbend and her blog from people demanding corroboration, hard facts and revelation of her identity. As someone who is an opponent of our unilateral action, has lived in Baghdad and being a geek girl myself, I have sympathy for our gentle blogger. I admit that this may color my opinion that publishing Ms. Magoon’s email is taking a chink out of Riverbend’s virtual blogging reputation by holding her to a higher standard than…the current Bush administration. “