The US embassy workers will be able to insulate themselves from the constant problems with utilities in the rest of Baghdad. It is always possible though that the insurgents will find ways to attack the embassy in spite of all its defences.
Even though there is rampant unemployment in Baghdad the embassy was built by imported workers , no doubt for security reasons.
Baghdad embassy-fortress nearly built
By Jim Michaels, USA TODAY
The United States' largest and costliest embassy, a heavily fortified compound in Baghdad with its own power plant and lighted softball field, is on track to be completed next month, on time and within budget.
"We're going to complete it on schedule," said Charles Williams, director of the State Department's overseas building operations. It took two years to build, he said.
The 65-acre compound will be largely a world unto itself, insulated as much as possible from problems that plague the rest of Baghdad.
The facility sits on the banks of the Tigris River in the Green Zone, a walled-off area that houses Iraqi and U.S. offices. The embassy will have a separate set of 9-foot-high concrete walls to protect it against car or truck bombs. Many of the buildings also will have specially made bulletproof doors and windows, Williams said.
Baghdad experiences frequent utility outages, but the compound will have its own power, water and sewage plants.
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Diplomats are limited in their ability to move outside the Green Zone because of violence, so the compound has soccer fields and a commissary for shopping, Williams said. The facility has 619 apartments and can accommodate 1,157 workers.
Building the facility in the middle of an insurgency was costly, but Williams said it will not exceed the $592 million budgeted. By having workers live inside the Green Zone, the U.S. government avoided a lot of the security costs that have hampered other construction projects throughout Iraq.
The builders, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, headquartered in Kuwait, brought in about 2,500 mostly non-Iraqi workers who lived in trailers in the Green Zone.
It was easier than trying to bring locals into the work site, he said. "The Iraqis were difficult to vet," Williams said.
First Kuwaiti has been accused by some former workers of abusive labor practices and housing workers in deplorable conditions at the Baghdad site.
"Foreign workers were packed into trailers very tight," John Owens, a former construction manager at the embassy, told a congressional panel last month. "There was insufficient equipment and basic needs, like shoes and gloves."
Williams said he has seen no evidence of abuses. A review last year by the State Department Inspector General did not substantiate the allegations. Williams said he expects the State Department to perform final inspections by Sept. 24 or 25. Diplomats could move in after that, he said.