Army Col. John Hope blew the whistle on a task force that spent $43 million to build a useless gas station in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the useless gas station should have cost about $500,000. As a result of pointing out the doubly wasteful project, Hope has “been singled out for retaliation and retribution” for “speaking truth,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
The gas station is useless because it supplies natural gas to cars that have been converted to run on natural gas. But there are hardly any cars that run on natural gas in Afghanistan, and the cost to convert a car to run on natural gas is $700. The average annual income in Afghanistan is $690, according to the Washington Post.
More from the Washington Post:
The high cost of the gas station has angered many in Congress. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has scheduled a hearing on it for next month. And Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said it was one of the worst cases of wasteful spending that she has ever seen.
“There are few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop,” she said in a statement. “But of all the examples of wasteful projects in Iraq and Afghanistan that the Pentagon began prior to our wartime contracting reforms, this genuinely shocked me.”
The contractor, Central Asian Engineering Construction Company, originally bid $3 million to build the gas station, which is already an order of magnitude too much to charge. How they ended up charging $43 million is a mystery. I wonder who owns Central Asian Engineering Construction Company?