07 Aug. 2008

PR# 2008-371

New office streamlines construction efforts in Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - August 4 marked the first day of work for members of a newly created Project Coordination Office (PCO) in Zabul province. They met to select one of five contractor bids for building a new boys’ dormitory in Qalat.

The PCO serves as a hub for all reconstruction and development efforts within the province from building schools to repairing roads. Zabul’s Provincial Development Committee (PDC) chooses and approves projects for the province and the PCO handles the implementation. The PDC is a legal, cabinet-approved body, while the PCO is a separate oversight organization primarily responsible for the contracting process.

“The job of the PCO is to ensure transparency,” said Zabul Governor Delbar Jan Arman. The PCO “will ensure contracts go to the right people, current projects are moving forward, the government is informed of projects and the PDC receives updates on the status of reconstruction and development efforts.”

“I’m trying my best to make sure the PCO is an office without corruption,” said Dr. Habib Rehman Roahmal, Independent Directorate of Local Governance and the PCO secretary. “We will have rules and regulations to follow. Naturally, we might face some problems at this stage, but we are hoping to overcome all the problems soon.”

Until the formation of this new office, the government did not have a central organization to monitor ongoing or planned projects within Zabul, Roahmal said. This lack of coordination impacted upon reconstruction and development efforts with half-completed construction sites, two contractors working on the same project and provincial government officials left with no points of contact for on-site contractors.

With no central body to regulate projects, efforts within the government were not transparent to the people; this transparency is critical to improving the government’s legitimacy and extending its reach to the population. Additionally, contractors and labour often came from outside of Zabul; the PCO will require contractors to use a high percentage of local labour.

“The creation of the PCO is a step in the right direction for Zabul,” said Air Force 1st Lt. Adam Lazar, Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) civil engineer and the only military member on the PCO. “The PCO allows the committee members to be involved with every aspect of the process, from project identification to announcement and from contracting to quality assurance. Plus, the open forum of this first meeting helped to ease the contractors’ fears that there may be some corruption in the selection process.”

“This is the first office of its kind for Zabul province,” said Army Maj. Trever Nehls, Zabul PRT civil affairs lead. “The contractors were very pleased. Even those who did not receive the contract were pleased with the transparency and happy that they were invited to an open forum to hear the discussion concerning who was going to be selected by the PCO.”

The PCO is comprised of 11 members: line directors of education, health, agriculture, social protection, public works, economy, and rural rehabilitation and development; a provincial council representative; an Independent Directorate for Local Governance provincial advisor; and the Zabul PRT engineer. The provincial governor chairs the PCO.

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/