Afghan prison renovation far from incomplete despite US spending $18.5M, US auditor says



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KABUL, Afghanistan — The renovation of Afghanistan's main prison which began five years ago has yet to be completed, and the State Department has terminated the contract despite America spending $18.5 million, A U.S. report said Tuesday.

Federal auditors SIGAR reported that work on Pol-i-Charkhi prison is only half finished despite the U.S. government spending almost all of the $20.2 million contract value.

The prison, built in 1973 to house approximately 5,000 prisoners, is now heavily overcrowded with 7,400 inmates, said the report, based on an April-September assessment.

SIGAR said that the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs had already paid Al-Watan Construction Company (AWCC), an Afghan firm, the sum despite its lagging results.

It also found that not all the work had been done according to contract terms.

"Under the contract's scope of work, all roof replacements required the use of metal trusses, INL site visit reports show that the contractor substituted wood trusses for metal trusses." The report added that the contractor improperly covered 30-year-old wood trusses with new roofing material, rather than replacing them as required under the contract.

Meanwhile in western Herat province, an Afghan police chief says that gunmen attacked a checkpoint in the capital city, also called Herat, killing two police officers.

The chief of the provincial criminal investigation division, Gul Agha Hashimi, said seven civilians, including three women, were also wounded when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on the checkpoint at around 2 p.m.

Violence has been intensifying across Afghanistan as the presence of Taliban insurgents spreads and law and order breaks down.

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