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Deals first, fall later

Washington, March 25 (Reuters): The US Agency for International Development, the US government’s aid agency, has awarded Stevedoring Services of America a $4.8-million contract to manage the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr on Monday, even before US or British forces took control of the town.

In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it had awarded a contract to extinguish oil well fires and repair damaged oil facilities in Iraq to Kellogg, Brown and Root, the Houston firm which prepared contingency plans for the army.

The contracts were the second and third awarded under the Bush administration’s preparations for reconstruction in Iraq, where US and UK forces are fighting to overthrow Iraq President Saddam Hussein.

The aid agency said in a statement: “SSA will be responsible for the effective operation of the port, allowing food and other humanitarian and reconstruction materials and supplies to be delivered smoothly and efficiently.

“The Seattle, Washington-based company will provide an initial port assessment, develop improvement plans to overcome port-imposed constraints and supply technical expertise to ensure an adequate flow of through shipment.

“The company will be responsible for the port pilots who will guide ships up the channel, and will manage the access of trucking companies to the port and establish a system of controls to avoid theft and corruption.”

It did not say when work would start or how long the company would manage the port.

In a separate statement, the Army Corps of Engineers said it had selected Kellogg, Brown and Root to handle the Iraq oil well problem in its initial phase.

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