Nearly 40m afs withdrawn for imaginary school building

KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): A school building in southern Zabul province has been constructed at a cost of 8.3 million afghanis but an extra 39.6 million afghanis was also withdrawn for the same project from the Ministry of Urban Development and Land, a matter referred to judicial organs for investigation.

A document from the Ministry of Urban Development and Land (MUDL) shows that a local council and MUDL had approved construction of a school (Sayedkhel High School) in Arghandab district of Zabul province in January 2020. The document shows that the cost of construction of the school building is 8.3 million afghanis.

Nasratullah Zahid, Zabul education director, told Pajhwok Afghan News that 95 percent work on the school has been completed and it would be inaugurated in near future. Some documents obtained by Pajhwok show that the school building project was signed with a company named Tamim Amini against 68,473,791 afghanis on November 20, 2018.

The project was expected to be completed in April 2020, but the completion date was extended to October 11 following a recommendation from MUDL’s public facilities programs. However, a report of the Monitoring and Control Department of MUDL shows that no documents about Sayedkhel High School had been shared with the department by the procurement section of the ministry and there was no such project registered with them.

The report says the monitoring and control section of the ministry was asked for information about the project, but it had no information and the ministry also had no details in this regard. “Officials of Tamim Amini company have scanned a document of the monitoring and control department about construction of a 5.141 meter wall and eight classes as part of a project in Kunduz province. The officials have edited this document after scan and changed its parts with ‘For Sayedkhel High School Project’ and named a project under its own name and then shared it with procurement department of MUDL, so four invoices with 74,65750 afghanis, 7155546 afghanis, 8158743 afghanis and 6835852 afghanis on October 22, 2019, April 27, 2020, May 19, 2020 and April 28 respectively have been paid and the fifth one is under process,” the letter said.

But a well-placed source in the MoUDL told Pahwok Afghan News that the Quality Control and Monitoring Department report was incorrect because so far five installments of the project had been paid and the total value of the project is almost 40 million afghani. The source said the first installment was 7,465,750afs, No 1791 dated to 15/10/2019, the second installment is 7,155,546afs, third installment is 8,158,743afs, fourth installment 6,835,853afs and the third installment is 10,213,000afs it makes total 39,828,892afs.

The source claimed that the main documents of the first installment of the project have been removed from the MoUDL, but existed in the system of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). It added agreement for the project was reached through the MoF back in 2018, annexed with the 2019 budget document and the contract was inked in 2018. The trusted source said that despite the fact that the MoUDL delegation back in 2018 reported that the area was insecure and no survey had been conducted before but still first installment of the project was released and the Construction Monitoring Department of the MoUDL being an observer approved and signed progress in the work.

“The General and State Construction Programme officials approve work progress and released the first installment and all other related documents of the project — contract, duration extension, installment payment, development and approvals coming installments.” Zabul education director, Nasrullah Zahid said that a technical team from the education ministry had traveled to Zabul in 2019 to survey the land for Sayedkhel High School.

He said that the team was accompanied by the education director of the district but the Taliban barred them visiting the district and told the team to take permission from their seniors. The team returned to Kabul without reporting the matter with the provincial educational department, he added.

Seddiqullah Reshtin, Zabul urban development and land director, also confirmed that the school building had not been coordinated with them. Zabul governor, Gen. Ahmad Gul Rassouli, said that the local administration had investigated the issue but the urban development and land was not involved in the issue.

About negligence on the regard, he said, “There is no evidence and document about this matter to be taken action upon, and that is the reason the issue mostly related to the central government.” Khatera Sadat, deputy urban development and land minister, has sent two individual letters to the Presidential Palace and the National Procurement Authority.

The letters says the contract for Sayedkhel High School was signed by former urban development and land minister, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, who is current state minister for peace affairs, but the date for the completion of the project was extended by former acting minister, Mohammad Jawad Paikar. Ghulam Yahya Abbasi, deputy state minister for peace affairs, in response to Khatera Sadat’s letters, has sent another letter to her that the Presidential Palace has approved the resignation of Naderi as urban development and land minister on June 11, 2018.

Pajhwok also obtained a copy of the resignation letter of Naderi whose resignation was approved on June 2, 2018. Former acting urban development and land minister, Mohammad Jawad Paikar, on May 21, 2020, in a Facebook post said, “How is it possible when a project has not been signed but its time is extended, many questions raised in this regard. I strongly ask for a comprehensive investigation and lawful actions should be taken.”

Pajhwok also tried to talk with Tamim Amini company officials, but failed. The Wolesi Jirga on January 4 in a letter has asked the parliamentary and legislative commission of the house to investigate the case. The letter reads there was no bidding, field work or approval and mention in the budget draft of the construction of the Sayed Khel school building. The Ministry of Urban Development and Land wrote on its Facebook page today that the matter was referred to the judiciary after completion of the investigation report of the internal audit and monitoring and control department of the ministry.