|Photo from Qavi Engineers Website|
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It's been one full week since the WaPo disclosed the
I am astonished by the lack of any particular public or Congressional outrage to that slow-motion train wreck of a building project. Maybe that outrage happened and I didn't notice it, or maybe we have become numb to costly fiascoes on the part of the government.
In the For What It's Worth Department, I notice that the other new consulate acquisition and fit-out project in Afghanistan, the one that happened in Herat, appears to really have been excellent. That means OBO is 1-for-2, and that is something it could say in its defense, assuming some Oversight Committee ever wakes up and inquires.
How did Herat go so right? It looks like a combination of picking the right kind of property, and hiring the right kind of local contractor.
The site that OBO leased in Herat was formerly a hotel, the same as in Mazar. But this hotel is located on top of a hill in between two parks on the outskirts of the city, and has substantial distance between the building and the nearest road. Therefore, it avoids the problems that make the Mazar site so inherently vulnerable, i.e., uncontrolled buildings adjacent to our perimeter wall, near-by higher buildings and other overlooking points, and short setback. I could find out that information after a few minutes of searching on the term "Five-Star Hotel, Herat."
The contractor that OBO used in Herat was one with a ten-year track record of successful performance on other U.S. government projects, according to its website.
This Project [the conversion of the Five-Star Hotel] was awarded after QEL’s outstanding performance at US Consulate, Lahore. The project was awarded on a “sole source” basis making QEL the first Pakistani Construction company to be awarded a sole sourced construction contract in a third country.
The contractor's website lists the project scope of work, which includes heavy-duty security upgrades such as a perimeter wall with guard towers, compound access control facilities, rated anti-ram vehicle barriers, inspection and screening areas, hard doors and windows, and a safe haven inside the office building.
I can't vouch for the accuracy of all that stuff personally, of course, but the website quotes the OBO Project Director saying complimentary things, and it has a photo of a Certificate of Appreciation signed by the Consul General and Senior Civilian Representative, Western Afghanistan. They can refute it if it's false.
To misquote Dickens, "it was the best of projects, it was the worst of projects, it was the age of wise management, it was the age of foolish management, it was the epoch of good site-selection, it was the epoch of poor site-selection, it was the season of Care, it was the season of Carelessness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way if Congress ever makes us explain how this happened."