Although continued violence and security issues have challenged contractors working to rebuild Iraqi infrastructure, work in the country continues albeit at a somewhat slower pace, U.S. Agency for International Development and Bechtel National officials say.

Bechtel is the prime contractor for two USAID capital construction contracts in Iraq valued at more than $2 billion.


USAID has 41 infrastructure projects under way and about "90% of those are progressing as we expect," USAID spokeswoman Portia Palmer told April 22. USAID and Bechtel officials in Baghdad briefed reporters on construction progress earlier that day. Work slowdowns have occurred on three of the 41 projects, because of security concerns, Palmer said. She added that complete work stoppages have not occurred.

Earlier in the month Palmer had said that "there are areas in the country we are not able to work in." Security assessments are done on a day-by-day basis by USAID's security team, but "it is always a fluid situation," she said on April 13.

Palmer said security always has been a priority, and USAID security officials continuously coordinate with construction contractors in Iraq, who provide their own security.

Bechtel repeatedly has declined to discuss security specifics, citing company policy. But spokesman Howard N. Menaker states: "We can generally discuss that our work continues on vital projects across the country, and our overall timetable has not been compromised."

Although recent violence "has had some impact on that work, we have found effective ways to meet USAID's goals of rebuilding power plants and water treatment facilities, transportation infrastructure, and other installations to help improve the well-being of the Iraqi people and lay the groundwork for an economic revival," Menaker adds.

Separately, General Electric Co. and Siemens A.G. are suspending their work in the electricity sector, according to press reports.