Have you ever heard of a CNG station that was made with literally millions of US dollars? Well you are about to. And as much as we like to think only our governmental departments are incompetent, this has nothing to do with us, and has all to do with the US. US Pentagon spent 43 million American dollars to make a CNG station in Afghanistan. You read it right, 43 million USD, just to make a CNG station.
John Sopko who is the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and his team, who have been investigating the wasteful spending in Afghanistan, are working with US government to locate all the areas where waste is expected. Sopko called it “gratuitous and extreme” and maybe even “criminal”.
Sopko wrote that a CNG station normally costs around $500,000 in Pakistan. But the same sort of compressed natural gas station ended up costing Pentagon eye-watering $43 million. This means the Afghani CNG station was 140 times more than what a normal CNG station would cost. Only the overhead costs were around $30 million.
The Task Force for Stability and Business Operations was in-charge at the time of this CNG station, and that wing of Pentagon has essentially been closed. Pentagon decided not to comment on their not discarded wing and activities in Afghanistan when Sopko pressed them for answers.
Their reply was,
“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide and explanation for the high cost of the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation or outcome.”
The CNG station was intended to help the Afghans of that area. At least that is what the brief said, and that is what Pentagon said as well. Afghanistan depends a lot on foreign fuel. This CNG station was one step towards the ‘independence’, by taking advantage of the local natural resources. Sopko, however, found out that Afghanistan doesn’t even have a CNG vehicle market, or even the infrastructure to move the gas around the country. In Afghanistan, according to UN data, average annual income is 690 dollars. Whereas the approximate cost of converting a petrol vehicle to CNG is like $700…doesn’t make much sense for an ordinary Afghani to convert his Indus shape Corolla to CNG now does it?
Sopko is baffled why TFBSO (Task Force for Stability and Business Operations) thought it was a good idea to make a CNG station in the first place. Needless to say, folks at high power positions are quite angry with this fiasco. Senator Claire McCaskill is a member of the Armed Services Committee wrote a letter to Ashton Carter who is the US Defense Secretary about this issue. She wrote,
“There are few things in this job that literally make my jaw drop, 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.”
So yeah, that CNG station is Metro Bus of United States.