By Karla Marshall, USACESeptember 17, 2011
DAYKUNDI PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Sept. 17, 2011 -- Last summer and fall, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded contracts for $1.8 million and $1.5 million to construct two Afghan National Police district headquarters compounds in the Gaiti and Miramor districts. The compounds will enable the Afghan National Police to provide security in these remote mountain areas. These projects were funded by the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan.
"Afghans need to know that their government is able to provide essential services, including security," said Lt. Col. John Carpenter, intelligence chief at the Afghanistan Engineer District-South. "By constructing these types of compounds, the U.S. moves the government of Afghanistan a step closer to that goal."
Consisting of perimeter walls, guard towers, office space, a dining facility, barracks, vehicle parking and storage facilities, the compounds each will accommodate 60 personnel and are scheduled to be complete in late 2012.
"There are a few significant impediments that delay construction in Daykundi province," said Hans Miller, project engineer on both the Gaiti and Miramor projects who deployed from USACE's Fort Worth District. "For instance, Wahid, our USACE quality assurance representative, said it takes more than 60 hours to drive from Kabul to Gaiti, a distance of less than 185 miles, because the roads are narrow, unpaved and wind through the mountains."
Other challenges include site preparation, the lack of skilled workers and weather extremes.
"At Gaiti and Miramor, our contractors are excavating through granite with relatively unsophisticated machinery to pour foundations for the perimeter walls," said Miller. "They recruit workers from the local area who have very little construction knowledge so training has to be a part of the process. Also, the contractors cannot work from mid-October through February because snow makes the mountain roads impassable."
Although delays are built into the construction schedule, project engineers and managers push contractors to keep construction on track.
"We can't get to these remote locations as often as we would like," said Miller, adding, "so we rely on our quality assurance representatives to keep us informed of progress. If we know the problems, we can help contractors find solutions. QA representatives, like Wahid, are critical to our efforts because they help USACE create the conditions for a secure Afghanistan."