By Army Spc. Dustin Roberts
Special to American Forces Press Service
Dec. 23, 2008 - U.S. soldiers and Baghdad's deputy mayor met Dec. 21 to discuss progress at a public works substation in the Mansour district of the northwestern part of the Iraqi capital. Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team and Naeem Aboub, elected as Baghdad's deputy mayor in 2005, saw the refurbished substation building and examined its equipment, such as dump trucks and street sweepers used for essential services in the neighborhood.
"The purpose of today's mission was for him to actually see what we talked about when discussing the [city's public works department] bringing services to the people of northwest Baghdad back in 2007," said Army Col. Louis Fazekas, governance officer in charge of the local embedded provisional reconstruction team. "We've talked about this in three or four different meetings, and it is hard to visualize what it looks like until you get on the ground and see for yourself."
In a signed agreement, coalition forces pledged to completely refurbish the building inside and out. They provided the necessary equipment to perform the essential services and fuel to run the equipment for 90 days, and also hired the employees and paid their salaries for a year. Similar contracts were formed for each substation, and plans for similar work at facilities in Karkh and Hurriyah are under way, Fazekas said.
The contract also included requirements for Baghdad public works officials to make sure the people are getting regular essential services, to fully take over each substation at a date to be determined, to hire qualified citizens for jobs and to pay the workers properly.
The public works department will keep the equipment coalition forces provided.
Fazekas said it was important for Aboub to see that the street sweepers, backhoes, dump trucks, trash trucks, sewer trucks and front-end loaders have been busy in the streets of the district's Ameriyah neighborhood, improving the people's quality of life. Aboub said he was impressed with the progress and glad the people of Ameriyah were getting of the services.
"I would like to incorporate this throughout Baghdad and make this the [public works] station of the future," he said.
Fazekas said essential services for the population are crucial to the counterinsurgency mission.
"What we have tried to do is sell the whole concept of this so the people can see that there are regular services on a regular schedule," he said. "Once they see the government is capable of providing services and doing other things for them, then it restores their confidence. Ultimately, they start to help us, because they want the government to succeed."