Basra’s Next Battle: Defeating Corruption and Bureaucracy

Today, Turkey, America, Denmark and Russia already have a diplomatic presence on the ground in Basra while bold companies such as Mitsubishi have opened offices there. India, Australia and Belgium have also expressed interest in opening consulates in the city.

It might be time for Britain to think about going back, and the engineer I spoke to for this interview certainly feels this way. However, as a senior director of an Iraqi engineering firm he wished to remain anonymous, so I have given him the pseudonym Samir. I asked if this was because he had worked with the British, and he laughed at the suggestion: “no,” he said, “I don’t want to get tied up in politics.”

RT: Looking back, what is the proudest project you have worked on?

Samir: The proudest project was in 2006 where we completed a Floating Bridge on east part of the Shatt al-Arab river at the District Al-Fayhaa. The work included In & Out approaches. The client was The British Army in Basra. It went so well because we were supported by the British Forces and the local government at that time

RT: There are several engineering companies in southern Iraq now. Are there enough skilled young Iraqi staff for every company, or are you often training new recruits?

Samir: There is a shortage of skilled Iraqi staff and to overcome this, we are training newly recruited young Iraqi engineers in continuous training program.

RT: In Baghdad, they’ve allocated $350m for roads. When you do an engineering project, what are the challenges in terms of road quality, electricity etc?

Samir: The challenges are not so much money wise or engineering wise. The problem is in execution if it is awarded to a local company, we have this corruption problem, an epidemic in Iraq. The quality of work is not that good, that’s why with the local government now, the tendency is to award contracts to foreign companies for execution and supervision.

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14 Responses to Basra’s Next Battle: Defeating Corruption and Bureaucracy

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    9th January 2014 at 12:41 #

    Bureaucracy & red tape.... Jeez I hope they really mean what they're saying in Basrah... in Baghdad just walked out of the Oil Ministry earlier today and the set-up there is a joke... it's literally a set-up for failure.. Try proposing an investment project in Iraq's oil & gas sector and you'll be aiming for Kurdistan very shortly after doing a few laps on the oil ministry's red tape racket..!!

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    10th January 2014 at 05:44 #

    Instead of Samir, you should get candid comments from international companies executing projects in Basra. First, the bureaucracy and red tape will kill the project and, if that is not enough, the inconsistency between protestations / promises and actual action will. And, if even that is not enough, constantly changing stands on every issue will complete the job.
    How many foreign companies have actually been able to complete a contract within the original time limit and how many have finally abandoned their contracts altogether, cut their losses and walked away? It would be interesting to see, if there is any way to get these statistics together.
    Why is it that Basra is unable to utilise it's budgets fully, year after year?
    Basra has great potential. What a pity that the resources are not being properly utilised to better the lot of it's people.

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    10th January 2014 at 09:18 #

    True - And even friends from Basrah would agree: What a dump yard to be living on, yet ironically the primary source for Iraq's crude exports.. Opec's 2nd largest nation !!

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    15th January 2014 at 08:06 #

    Visited Basra for the oil and gas exhibition in December 2013. Was last there 30 years ago. Looked better then. But at least the people have maintained their good cheer and hospitable nature. for a visual journey, visit