Feds Built $43M Gas Station in Afghanistan: Watchdog
And it's not clear if it's still operational
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2015 9:53 AM CST
John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 10, 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – A watchdog report has some thrilling news for taxpayers: $43 million of your hard-earned money went toward building a single gas station in Afghanistan with an initial budget of $3 million. If that's not bad enough, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the Department of Defense has been unable or unwilling to explain the high cost of Afghanistan's first compressed natural gas filling station, built in Sheberghan in 2011. The DoD told SIGAR it lacked the "personnel expertise" to respond because the task force in charge of the operation closed in March. "I've never encountered anything like this," says SIGAR's John Sopko, who calls the project "an outrageous waste of money," per NBC News. "There may be fraud. There may be corruption. But I cannot currently find out more about this because of the lack of cooperation."

The DoD tells NBC it's now providing access to records. But the report found "no indication" that the task force investigated the viability of the project, aimed at easing Afghanistan's reliance on imports, or the obstacles it might face before breaking ground. "Even considering security costs associated with construction and operation in Afghanistan, this level of expenditure appears gratuitous and extreme," the report states, noting such a project in Pakistan would cost just $500,000. SIGAR also couldn't determine whether the station was still operational; documents show the business that took it over in 2014 didn't renew its business license that year, reports Fox News. Sopko adds he's still investigating the task force's other projects, for which it was given $820 million from 2010 to 2014.