Bechtel to give most Iraq subcontract work to Iraqi firms

Bechtel announced last week it will employ some 25,000 Iraqis to rebuild water facilities, sewage plants, schools, clinics, a seaport and a fresh-water canal in the war-ravaged country.

Companies from around the world have been vying for subcontracts since San Francisco-based Bechtel won a $680 million government contract to repair Iraq’s infrastructure. But Gregory Huger, Bechtel manager, said at a conference in Kuwait City the majority of the work will go to Iraqi firms and tens of thousands of their employees.

“Nobody knows how to work in Iraq better than Iraqis,” he said.

Iraq’s engineers are well trained, and importing others would add little to the project but cost, Huger said. More than half the nation has been unemployed since the war crashed Iraq’s economy.

The work Bechtel is facing is challenging, with clean water scarce, sewage spilling into rivers and electricity flickering on and off. The company and its subcontractors will repair 28 water facilities, nine sewage plants and 1,300 schools and clinics.