More Mishandling of the Aftermath of Shock and Awe

In a story that has replayed over and over again, this one sees the utter destruction and incompetency involved with anything that the Bush adminstration touches.

What They Asked For, They Did Not Get
Pratap Chatterjee*

WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (IPS) – The convoy of flatbed trucks picked up its cargo at Baghdad International Airport last spring and sped northwest, stacked high with crates of expensive medical equipment. From bilirubin metres and hematology analysers to infant incubators and dental appliances, the equipment had been ordered to help Iraq shore up a disintegrating health care system.

But instead of being delivered to 150 brand-new Primary Health Care centres (PHCs) as originally planned, the Eagle Global Logistics vehicles were directed to drop them off at a storage warehouse in Abu Ghraib.

Not only did some of the equipment arrive damaged at the warehouse, owned by PWC of Kuwait, one in 14 crates was missing, according to the delivery documents. The shipment was fairly typical: Military auditors would later calculate that roughly 46 percent of some 70 million dollars in medical equipment deliveries made to the Abu Ghraib warehouse last spring had missing or damaged crates or contained boxes that were mislabeled or not labeled at all.

Not that it really mattered. Just over three weeks before the Apr. 27 delivery, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had canceled the construction of 130 of the 150 PHCs for which the materiel was intended. As a result, the equipment that could help diagnose and treat Iraqi illness (and escalating bomb or gun injuries) now sits idle waiting for someone to figure out what to do with it.

Even if the equipment finally makes it through the bureaucratic logjam, lack of trained personnel to operate it, especially outside major cities, will severely limit its utility. The Army Corps had written a 15-day training plan into the contract, but over time, this had been whittled down to 10 and then to just three days. Iraqi Ministry of Health officials have given up hope that any training at all will accompany the sophisticated equipment.

But if Iraqis have failed to benefit from the idle PHCs, the 70-million-dollar contract to supply them has been a shot in the arm for Parsons Global. The Pasadena, California-based engineering company reaped a 3.3-million-dollar profit according to an audit report issued by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), an independent U.S. government agency. And that is in addition to the 186 million dollars that U.S. taxpayers shelled out to Parsons to build dozens of clinics that have yet to dispense a single aspirin.

Read the rest here.

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