Lack of cooperation with local monitors prove too expensive for the construction company

By: Ali Ahmad Mashalafrooz, Provincial Coordinator, Kapisa

On 22nd of December 2017, the second and third floor of the Deh Baba Masjid (Mosque) crumbled injuring one person. The construction of the masjid has been a demand of the people in Kapisa for many years. After many years of advocacy by the local communities, the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs allocated USD 239,000 for construction of the three-story masjid with a capacity of three thousand people at one time. God forbid, it would have killed and injured hundreds of people if it crashed after completion of the construction work.

Local monitors started monitoring of the project from the outset. The monitors noticed that the construction was fundamentally against the design of the building using only 14 steel bars while it should have used 17 according to the terms of the contract. In addition, the cement used in the construction was not in accordance with the standards. Volunteer monitors from the community also highlighted other issues such as the use of low-quality construction material.

The volunteers shared the findings of the monitoring with the manager of the construction company but the monitors only received threats in response. The issue was brought up to the attention of Department of Economy and the governor of the province. But none of the issues were addressed by neither by the department nor by the governor allegedly due to strong connections of the construction company. The construction continued during this time until the second and third floors of the Masjid crumbled.

A decade-long experience of Integrity Watch shows that it is critical for the safety of the local communities and for the benefit of the contractors to cooperate with the local monitors and address the concerns raised by them.

Community-based Monitoring of Infrastructure that started in 2008 has covered more than 1160 projects in several provinces. The main goal of the program is to monitor the construction of public-funded projects with an aim to increase transparency and accountability in the construction sector. Following its success in other provinces, the program was introduced in Kapisa province in 2017.