RT: Bureaucracy is a challenge everywhere. Is the situation getting better in Basra?
Samir: No it is still predominant and affecting the life of the citizens.
RT: And Nasrawi’s plans, such as hiring Hill International--this is going to help?
Samir: They are going to do the engineering for the bigger projects. And he’s also thinking of signing a contract with another foreign company to supervise and inspect the quality of work coming out and trying to award this work to foreign companies. I am sure this will help.
RT: So one of the big things with Hill International, is to beat corruption.
Samir: Yes, I was talking to governor Nasrawi a few months ago and we came to the same conclusion. The problem is not only bad planning, it is bad local governance. Frankly speaking, we don’t have planning, even in the ministry of planning. As you know you cannot do any project or work without strategy, you have to plan first what to do before you start.
You mentioned that Governor Nasrawi was talking about a street paving project that had gone wrong and that is a good example. They do paving, then they come and dig for sewage and electrical cables, so that means you damage the paving again! So they should plan for that, you know what to do, you have new pipeline for sewage and new cables, then you do the paving! It should be the final stage. Nasrawi was right. He’s good and it seems to me he wants to work very hard.
RT: He used to work with The Ammar Foundation (a charity that was started to help the Marsh Arabs, who now work on health clinics and other local projects. They are currently funded by Shell among other organizations.)
Samir: Yes he did, when he was a refugee in Iran, when he was appointed by Baroness Nicholson. Everyone was so annoyed when Britain closed the consulate. The people in Basra, they want to go to the UK to do business, so it used to be very easy for us to get a visa, through this consulate, through the British embassy in Kuwait, and we apply at the British consulate in Basra and they take our visa to Kuwait and get the visa within 3 or 4 days. Now it takes more than 2 months to get a visa to the embassy in Amman! That’s one thing, the other thing is a lot of British were working in Basra, so I don’t know why they closed the consulate in Basra.
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