By Guy S Lucas MBECEO BACTEC International Limited
BACTEC's Land Release Project is in its final stages and is due to be completed on 24 March. At the outset of the Project the contract target was to process and release some 2,370,000 sq m of Stanley Common for public access and use. The rate of clearance has been greater than anticipated due to favourable weather and low level of ordnance contamination, as a direct result of which an area of just over 3,700,000 sq m will be released. The opening ceremony will take place on Monday 26 March at 5pm.
The area which will be released does, however, contain four minefields. These four minefields have been re-fenced and new mine signs attached. Prior to the construction of the new fences the perimeter of each minefield was flailed with a mechanical flail and subjected to Battle Area Clearance procedures. The new fences have been constructed just outside the old fences on the area which had been flailed. This has been done as an additional safety measure. The old minefield fences have been left in situ to facilitate the future clearance of the minefields.
As an integral part of the project a series of new fences have been constructed to restrict access to part of the area which remains a hazardous area and contains mines. The new fences have been sited to allow access to both Mile and Round Ponds from the East. It unfortunately will not be possible to access Mile and Round Ponds from the West.
The corral lies within the area which will be released for public access.
The 17 Zimbabwean deminers under the control of the BACTEC Operations Manager, Phillimon Gonamombe have achieved excellent progress, assisted by favourable weather. During BACTEC's mine clearance project in 2009/10 we lost over 20% of working time due to bad weather resulting in unsafe working conditions for mine clearance.
Andy Frizzell, who set up and ran the project initially, had to return to Mozambique early in March and his role as Project Manager was taken over by myself, Guy Lucas MBE, CEO of BACTEC.
Throughout the project we have worked very closely with the Demining Project Office (DPO) whose main role has been to ensure all aspects of our work have been carried out to the required standards and in accordance with the FCO contract. Robin Swanson MBE, DPO Programme Manager said this week "BACTEC have applied all the right quality measures during this contract so the community should have absolute confidence in their work. They have worked very hard and achieved almost double the minimum they were contracted to do. This phase alone will release about 17% of the area currently prohibited by minefield fences and unavailable for social use across the islands".
As the Falklands Autumn draws near the BACTEC team are completing the remaining tasks ready for the opening ceremony on 26 March, I would like to express my most sincere thanks to the community on behalf of BACTEC and our Zimbabwean deminers, for the support and hospitality shown to us from the day we arrived at MPA on 1 January. We have all felt very much part of the community and hope to be able to return in the near future to carry out further mine clearance and Land Release projects.
From a personal perspective I was here in 1982 as the EOD Squadron Commander and established the post conflict Tri-Service EOD detachment, since then as CEO of BACTEC I have been responsible for both the BACTEC 2009/10 and current contracts. I have enjoyed being part of the process of removing the mines and ordnance blight since 1982 and am now experiencing the satisfaction of seeing formerly blighted land being returned to the community.
A route to the corral and car parking will be clearly marked. Please make your way to the car park, some 700m to the west of the water tanks, at the top of the track leading to Mullet creek and the old pump house. You will be directed from there to a signed and marked route leading to the corral and adjacent parking.