U.S. spends $43 million to build gas station in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — An investigation found the Department of Defense cannot explain why a natural gas station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, cost U.S. tax payers $43 million to build.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — or SIGAR — released a report showing a special task force created to stabilize post-invasion Afghanistan wanted to build the gas station to show commercial viability for compressed natural gas stations.

“One of the most troubling aspects of this project is that the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide an explanation for the high cost of the project,” said John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in a letter to the Secretary of Defense.

A similar project in Pakistan only cost $500,000 to build, according to the report.

According to Sopko, representatives of the Department of Defense did not deny the special inspector’s findings. Instead, they said no one can answer Sopko’s questions because the special task force that started the project closed in March 2015.

“Frankly, I find it both shocking and incredible that DOD asserts that it no longer has any knowledge about [the task force], an $800 million program that reported directly to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and only shut down a little over six months ago,” Sopko said in the letter.

Sopko said he will continue his investigation to see if the task force’s staff or contractors who built the gas station did anything criminal.

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