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Reconstruction team holds first vendor fair

by Capt. Kevin Tuttle
Qalat Provincial Reconstruction Team

12/5/2006 - QALAT, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- More than 40 contractors from the Zabul Province attended the first vendor fair Nov. 26 held by the Qalat Provincial Reconstruction Team here in an effort to promote the availability of services and opportunities to both new and established contractors in the region.

Hosted by PRT officials and the Regional Contracting Center based at Kandahar Airfield, the event was organized with the intent to reach new contractors in Zabul.

Current vendors had the opportunity to ask questions about future contracts, and payment and procedures on how to obtain new contracts, said Army Maj. Michael Scuteri, RCC deputy chief.

Another benefit of developing a relationship with local vendors is that hiring local workers will improve the job situation in the city, said Major Scuteri who is from Morris, Ill., and stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y.

One of the RCC's objectives is to put an end to the multi-level subcontractor arrangements, and instead award contracts to local vendors who can benefit from doing business with coalition forces.

"We want to promote your business," Major Scuteri said to the attendees. "By doing business as a team, we will have a consolidated effort to improve security in the Zabul Province."

"The goal was to give the locals hope that their city can improve by working with U.S. and coalition forces, so we can expand the vendor base in the Zabul Province and, as a result, have a positive socioeconomic effect," said Capt. Aine Akeley, services and commodities chief for the RCC.

"They're very responsive and eager to work with us. We wanted to give them information to be successful when conducting business with the government," said Captain Akeley, whose home station is Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

A Ghazni province supplier, who has been in the contracting business for 18 months, attended the fair in hopes to obtain more contracts.

"I like to support my country and earn money, too," said Hikmat, an 18-year-old vendor from Qalat who uses only one name. "But I want to learn more about contracting. I'm pretty sure I'm going to help get supplies in the future."

Another goal was to educate contractors on how to properly submit a proposal, in addition to creating a database of contractors, said Capt. Rockie Wilson, a Qalat PRT engineer.

"We need to know whether they deal in commodities, services or construction. Then we have a repository for future reference. We're also trying to identify vendors and contractors inherent to Qalat. It's cheaper and timelier to get it here in Qalat and we're trying to see if that possibility exists," said Captain Wilson, who is deployed from Langley AFB, Va.

Hamamuoon, 20, who also uses only one name, recently started his own contracting business. He said making Afghanistan a better place to live is what drives him toward this line of work. He said the vendor fair was helpful to him because now he knows what to do to get more contracts.

"I want to help build Afghanistan and make it a better country," said Hamamuoon, who currently has a contract to build wells at various police station check points.

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