By Ajmal Afghan, Community Mobilizer – Balkh Province
A road is being built in Yalmareb area in Mazar-e-Sharif city. This road which is planned to be 2,100 meters long and 12 meters wide is expected to cost almost USD 1,500,450 from the Balkh Municipality’s budget and is set to be ready for public use by end of 2017. This project is being monitored in cooperation with local elders, the Yalmareb local council and by local volunteers working with the provincial office of Integrity Watch in Balkh province.
During the monitoring of the construction process, local monitors noticed that the construction company’s workers were using too much gravel and too little cement in building the covers of the two sides of the road, which is an integral part of construction. They were doing so in order to bring down their costs but which would ultimately result in a low road quality. Local monitors protested and did not allow any further work on the road until this problem was resolved. They also raised this issue with the Chief Engineer at the construction site. This resulted in the issue being taken to the construction company and from then onwards, the field workers did not repeat the same mistake and the issue was solved and the proper, and standard, amount of cement and gravel were used in the construction of road’s side panels.
In another similar case, local monitors reported use of low quality material on a construction project of roadside reinforcements of a 48 kilometers long road. This was initially flagged by local monitors and by a few other local residents who recommended (and the donor agreed and approved) installing stones in order to strengthen the roadsides but the local monitors later found out that the bricks and stones used for the roadside reinforcement were of very low quality. The issue was then raised with the construction company and with higher officials until they replaced these stones with better quality material. On top of not using the same low-quality material again, the company was forced by local monitors to replace any low quality brick and stone they used in the previous areas with new, better material.
With all this having been said, it is safe to assume that community monitoring of infrastructure projects can save lives if projects are monitored properly and flaws are noticed early on.