Granny Rant
Saturday, August 30, 2003
::: Rebuilding Contracts Still Awarded to American Corporations
~~ Regardless of an Astonishing Difference in Cost :::

In the instance of rebuilding the New Diyala Bridge at the Southeast end of Baghdad.

If they react as I did, American taxpayers will choke on the astronomical difference in
cost showered on the favored few. I am talking about a difference in an estimate
submitted by an Iraqi structural engineer of $300,000 and the contract awarded to
the American company at $50,000,000.

WOW, that stated in words is Three Hundred Thousand Dollars OR Fifty Million Dollars.

Uh, could we vote on that???

It is very difficult to supress anger and remain unemotional about the policies of the
Bremer/Bush Regime, and impossible to ignore they are, once again, backing out of
stated goals andproposed policies to include and help the Iraqi people.

More from River's account involving her cousin, a structural engineer

Listen to this little anecdote. One of my cousins works in a prominent engineering company in Baghdad- we’ll call the company H. This company is well-known for designing and building bridges all over Iraq. My cousin, a structural engineer, is a bridge freak. He spends hours talking about pillars and trusses and steel structures to anyone who’ll listen.

As May was drawing to a close, his manager told him that someone from the CPA wanted the company to estimate the building costs of replacing the New Diyala Bridge on the South East end of Baghdad. He got his team together, they went out and assessed the damage, decided it wasn’t too extensive, but it would be costly. They did the necessary tests and analyses (mumblings about soil composition and water depth, expansion joints and girders) and came up with a number they tentatively put forward- $300,000. This included new plans and designs, raw materials (quite cheap in Iraq), labor, contractors, travel expenses, etc.

Let’s pretend my cousin is a dolt. Let’s pretend he hasn’t been working with bridges for over 17 years. Let’s pretend he didn’t work on replacing at least 20 of the 133 bridges damaged during the first Gulf War. Let’s pretend he’s wrong and the cost of rebuilding this bridge is four times the number they estimated- let’s pretend it will actually cost $1,200,000. Let’s just use our imagination.

A week later, the New Diyala Bridge contract was given to an American company. This particular company estimated the cost of rebuilding the bridge would be around- brace yourselves- $50,000,000 !!

This continuation of corporate-enrichment carried out either by Washington
(or at least sanctioned by them) or Bremer's new regime continues down an
extremely disturbing path.

Excuse me, but I was under the impression we were doing our best to include and use
the extremely capable Iraqi engineers available. The administration has pointed out
from the beginning that Iraq was a country wealthy in educated men and women.

Wouldn't that give the Iraqi people more of a sense they were involved in the formation
of the New Iraq? Or are we only concerned in awarding contracts to Bechtel
and Halliburton, who, by the way, do not seem to be up to the job.

It is a disgrace that the super- powerful United States cannot get electricity and water
to the people of Iraq. Now lets see ... who was supposed to handle that little chore?
Ah yes ... Bechtel.

Since our own electric grid seems to be disintergrating, (or is that just another cheap
trick to encourage what the administration deems a superior state of affairs -
deregulation) perhaps we could bring the Iraqi engineers over here to save us
from impending blackouts.

More from River at Baghdad Burning (link above) ~ an Iraqi view of American Myths

The Promise and the Threat
The Myth: Iraqis, prior to occupation, lived in little beige tents set up on the sides of little dirt roads all over Baghdad. The men and boys would ride to school on their camels, donkeys and goats. These schools were larger versions of the home units and for every 100 students, there was one turban-wearing teacher who taught the boys rudimentary math (to count the flock) and reading. Girls and women sat at home, in black burkas, making bread and taking care of 10-12 children.

The Truth: Iraqis lived in houses with running water and electricity. Thousands of them own computers. Millions own VCRs and VCDs. Iraq has sophisticated bridges, recreational centers, clubs, restaurants, shops, universities, schools, etc. Iraqis love fast cars (especially German cars) and the Tigris is full of little motor boats that are used for everything from fishing to water-skiing.

Granny is not the only one who has noticed River at Baghdad Burning as a credible
source of information regarding the spending of OUR Tax $$$ ~~ Burnt Toast

So .... there ... feels great to RANT!

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