McClatchy reports: A U.S.-funded power plant in Afghanistan is in danger of catastrophic failure, according to a letter released Thursday by a government watchdog.
The $335 million Tarakhil power plant, near Kabul, was built as a joint venture by engineering firm Black & Veatch of Overland Park, Kan., and its then-partner Louis Berger Group, under a contract awarded by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2007.
Nicknamed “The White Elephant of Kabul,” Tarakhil has long been plagued by cost overruns, delays and operational problems.
Now the plant is “severely underutilized,” according to a letter from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to USAID.
The letter, dated Aug. 7, is part of an ongoing inquiry by the special inspector general, which has been monitoring developments at the Tarakhil plant for years to see whether Afghans can better utilize the U.S. taxpayer-funded facility.
The letter notes that Tarakhil’s power production between February 2014 and April 2015 was less than one percent of its production capacity, a further drop from July 2010 to December 2013, when the plant’s output was 2.2 percent of its capacity.
Contributing to the problem is the fact that Tarakhil can only run on diesel fuel, which is expensive and and dangerous to transport in Afghanistan. [Continue reading…]