Millions of Afghanis wasted on the construction of Shahid Mazari Road

Although the construction process of the 40-meter Barchi road to the Kabul-Kandahar highway, known as the “Shahid Mazari Road”, should have been completed months ago, it is still under construction. 8 Subh has now obtained documents showing that work on the road has been delayed due to a deal between companies and that more than 38 million Afghanis was wasted on its budget. The contract for the construction of this road has been twice completely transferred to other companies by the first company. Meanwhile, more than 34 million Afghanis have gone into the pockets of the first company officials based on a contract that emphasizes “confidentiality”. Another four million Afghanis of the money was designated for two others for mediation. The National Procurement Authority says that contracting companies can only transfer 20% of the contract to another company in coordination with the municipality. Officials at the institution state that if more than 20 percent of the project is awarded without coordination and mention in the text of the contract, the company will be banned from receiving projects for three years. Kabul Municipality, however, has remained silent on the issue. However, members of the House of Representatives say that officials are complicit in the corruption and that the situation of other projects in the country is not much different from that of the Shahid Mazari road extension project.

8 Subh has obtained documents that show that more than 38 million Afghanis was embezzled from the construction of the Shahid Mazari Road by the contracting companies, Mohammad Naeem Sons and Noween Hakimzada. The construction of this road is half-finished due to the illegal transfer of the contract by Mohammad Naeem Sons Contracting Company to a second company (Engineer Kaihan Company) and a third one (Daimand City) and the loss of its budget.

According to the documents, 34,983,554 Afghanis of this project’s money was embezzled by Haji Mojahid, the head of Mohammad Naeem Sons Company, in granting an illegal contract and at a lower price than the original price of the project to a third company (Diamond City Company). Also, 3,850,000 Afghanis out of 38 million Afghanis were taken by Haji Shojauddin, Haji Mujahid’s brother, in exchange for mediation between the companies of Mohammad Naeem Sons and Daimand City Company due to the award of a contract.

Based on these documents, the work done so far is not of good quality and in accordance with the contract. Although the round steel bars of this project was contracted with 60 grade quality, the contracting company used 40 grade quality. Also, the stones that the company has planned for the roadside do not pass the test and will be destroyed after one winter. In addition, due to the illegal acquisition of this project and the use of the seal of Mohammad Naeem Sons Company, the rent of tens of machines, offices, shelters and salaries of engineers and other employees have not been paid by the third company. According to the contract, the road extension project, which is 791.3 km long, was to be completed within 15 working months. Although the completion date of the project has passed, regardless of the three months of winter and the three months of quarantine, the project is still incomplete.

Whats the full story?

According to the documents received by 8 Subh, the construction project of the Shahid Mazari road with a value of 284,983,554 Afghanis on June 13, 2019 by Kabul Municipality to Mohammad Naeem Sons Company (headed by Haji Mojahid Uldeen Mojahid) and the Hakimzada Construction Company (headed by Fawad Hashemi) have been submitted on a voluntary basis. This is explicitly stated in a document written by the Department of Planning and Projects of the Kabul Municipality on July 3, 2019, to Mohammad Naeem and Noween Hakimzada Sons.

The document reads: “The project for the construction of a 40-meter road from Dasht-e Barchi to Kandahar Road, located in the 13th district, between the Kabul Municipality and construction companies of Mohammad Naeem Sons and Noween Hakimzada, with a total value of 284,983,554 Afghanis (“15 months of work without winter break) has been contracted on 13/6/2019.”

The letter reads: “Therefore, the above-mentioned contractors [Mohammad Naeem Sons and Noween Hakimzada] will be notified to start their practical operations in the area as soon as possible according to the contract and for the purpose of getting handed the area over, please be present at the site and must inform this office of  the start of their work.”

Mohammad Naeem Sons Company, after receiving a letter of work, in violation of the National Procurement Law and government projects, has transferred this project to another company called “Engineer Kaihan Company”. The company also failed to move forward after a while and went bankrupt. Haji Mojahid, the head of Mohammad Naeem Sons Company, has handed over the project to a third company called “Diamond City Company” headed by Haji Zaman for 250 million Afghanis and has squandered 34,983,554 Afghanis from its budget.

Based on a contract that has 30 clauses and was signed on March 15, 2020 between Mohammad Naeem Sons Company and Diamond City Company, the issue of transfer and how to proceed is described. The first clause states the conditions of the contract. The third clause of this contract specifies the total price of the project to be 284,983,554 Afghanis, of which we transferred 250 million Afghanis to a contractor. Therefore, 34,983,554 Afghanis belong to Mohammad Naeem Boys Construction Company.”

Similarly, the thirtieth clause of this contract mentions the confidentiality of this document: “If the contractor does not maintain the confidentiality of the contract, then 7% of the taxes imposed by the government will be borne by them (Diamond City Company).” However, the documents show that Haji Mojahid has awarded the contract for the construction of this road to Daimand City through the mediation of Shojauddin and Abdul Ahad Tanin, his company’s engineer. Thus, the transaction was mediated by these two people in exchange for 50,000 US dollars, equivalent to 3,850,000 Afghanis.

A written memorandum written between Shojauddin and Haji Zaman, the president of Daimand City, on March 15, 2019, reads: “Haji Zaman promises that after handing over the area and a week later, I will give my $50,000 to Haji Sahib Shojauddin.”

What does the law say?

Ramin Ayaz, spokesperson for the National Procurement Authority, told 8 Subh that the contract for the project was open on a voluntary basis and was signed between the construction companies and the construction of Mohammad Naeem Sons and the Kabul Municipality. Mr. Ayaz adds that contracting companies can, in coordination with the municipality, transfer 20% of the contract to another company. However, he emphasizes that this should be done in coordination with the municipality and should be mentioned in the contract. He added that “If more than 20% of the project is transferred from one company to another without the coordination of the contractor and the text of the contract, the company will be suspended for three years.”

Kabul Municipality spokesperson Samira Rasa, however, declined to comment on the contract awarded by Mohammad Naeem Sons to Daimand City. However, the documents show that Mohammad Naeem Sons Company has transferred all this project to the second company (Engineer Kaihan Company) and with the bankruptcy of this company, it has transferred this project to a third company (Diamond City Company). Thus, this project is now half-finished due to the lack of money from its budget.

While in the provision of 150 procurement procedures, it is stated: “If the contract is terminated due to breach of contract, the contractor is obliged to compensate the damage to the office according to the provisions of the contract or provides the remaining to the Procurement Office during the new bidding process within the validity period of the first contract and obtains the price difference from the first contractor as compensation.

Members of Parliament: Officials are involved in corruption

Criticizing government officials, a member of the House of Representatives said that the close relations of the contracting companies with the government officials had led to corruption in the project, and that the officials, along with the contracting companies, were involved in the corruption and embezzlement of the project. Fawzia Nasir Guldarayi, a Kabul MP, told 8 Subh that not only was there too much corruption in the project, but that this happens in all projects. She adds that, ”Companies that have close ties to the government receive these projects, and government officials are complicit with contract companies in the project’s mishandling and corruption.”

Also, Gol Ahmad Noorzad, a representative of the Nimroz people in the parliament, told 8 Subh that all projects contracted by government officials in Afghanistan will be corrupted at the beginning and end of the contract. According to him, this is not the first time that corruption has taken place in the Barchi-Kabul-Kandahar highway project, but billions of Afghanis in donations from donor countries have also been misused due to corruption and the involvement of government officials. He adds that, “If government officials had not been involved in corruption in this project, it would undoubtedly have been completed properly and would be usable now.”

The MPs called on government officials to bring the officials of the contracting companies to justice in accordance with the law, so that the project could be completed and put into operation with compensation. Meanwhile, the Kabul Municipality recently posted a video on its Facebook page stating that “the construction of the Shahid Mazari-Kabul-Kandahar highway is in full swing.” It is worth mentioning that corruption in road construction projects has been reported many times before and government officials have been accused of corruption in construction projects.