The Pentagon has come under fire for spending nearly $43 million to build a gas station in Afghanistan, 140 times the cost of comparable filling stations in the region.
A comparable compressed natural gas station in Pakistan cost no more than $500,000 to build, according to a report from from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The report also said the Defense Department (DOD) did not cooperate fully with the investigation.
The military was unable to confirm whether the station was operational.
The report states there is no evidence the DOD task force responsible for the station conducted a feasibility study before spending the money. Such a study might have revealed that Afghanistan does not have the local infrastructure necessary to support a market for cars that run on compressed natural gas, SIGAR said. A contractor for the task force said it costs $700 to convert one car to run on compressed natural gas, but the average annual income for Afghans is just $690.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the report "genuinely shocked me" and promised to investigate.
"It's hard to imagine a more outrageous waste of money than building an alternative fuel station in a war-torn country that costs 8,000 percent more than it should, and is too dangerous for a watchdog to verify whether it is even operational," she said in a statement. "Perhaps equally outrageous however, is that the Pentagon has apparently shirked its responsibility to fully account for the taxpayer money that's been wasted--an unacceptable lack of transparency that I'll be thoroughly investigating."