By Norris Jones
Special to American Forces Press Service
Thousands of families in eastern Baghdad soon will have their neighborhoods free of raw sewage in the streets. Iraqi construction workers are completing a $30 million sewer project in Kamaliya, southeast of Sadr City. About 36 miles of sewer pipe has been installed, and 10 pump stations were built, with the largest having the capacity to move more than 2,000 cubic meters of water per hour.
"Residents there appreciate the improvements taking place," said Iraqi engineer Mustafa Haddad, who works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "For over two years, we've been working on this project, and the community has been very supportive. They were using slit trenches and wading through raw sewage to get to their homes, a definite health risk."
Haddad is the deputy resident engineer of the corps' Loyalty Office, located south of Sadr City. More than 20 Iraqi engineers work out of the office, overseeing more than $125 million in infrastructure improvements in eastern Baghdad, including school and hospital renovations, electric network upgrades, road paving and new water-treatment facilities.
Haddad has put up with mortars, one of his fellow Iraqi engineers was gunned down after visiting a school project, other office workers have been injured, and he personally has been targeted by insurgents and had to move his family to a different area.
"We're here because we know how important this work is for our country and our people. Yes, it's a difficult time. But those in need are looking for help, and we're going to continue to do everything we can to offer it to them," he said. "Their streets will soon be dry and clean. People in Kamaliya are seeing significant signs of progress."
Haddad, 29, earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Baghdad's University of Technology.
"My family worries about me and the dangers I face, but they understand how important this work is," he said. "We need to keep making things better, and some day soon Iraq will turn the corner."
Apart from Kamaliya, Haddad is overseeing 20 other sewer projects in eastern Baghdad.
(Norris Jones is a public affairs officer with the Gulf Region Central district, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Iraq.)