Kuwaitis will have to suffer without electricity and hot water for at least another week but damage by the Iraqis is not as bad as the allies initially feared, a senior U.S. military officer says.
"Transmission of power - that's the show stopper right now," the officer said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.Fleeing Iraqi troops sliced sections of the power transmission lines, in one case making 45 separate cuts over a 13-mile stretch, he said.
"I think it was just vandalism as they left," said the officer, with Task Force Freedom, a joint U.S.-Kuwaiti effort that has drafted a blueprint for rebuilding the country.
There have been estimates that it may take $40 billion to $50 billion to fully restore the emirate, ravaged by seven months of occupation and the war to force out Iraqi troops.
Despite problems with the power supply, other pieces of the reconstruction plan were falling into place very quickly, the officer said.
"I think we're making tremendous progress," he said Tuesday. "It's going a lot faster than I thought."
"I think there are certain areas that have been devastated. It's going to require extensive cleanup. But it's not as bad as expected," he said.
The officer said medical services were in good shape, and the restoration of telephone and telecommunications service was about one-third complete.
No bridges were destroyed during the occupation and roads were open, but it will be some time before public transportation is restored, he said.
The Kuwaiti government has shipped in 385,000 tons of food in 217 tractor-trailers, including Arabic bread, lentils, rice, tomato sauce and corn oil for the hungry population.