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Don't expect big Kosovo contracts, warns Battle

NEWS

BRITISH CONSTRUCTION companies should put themselves forward for Kosovo rebuilding work but must not expect immediate large scale contracts, industry minister John Battle said this week.

Speaking to more than 250 companies following the British reconstruction taskforce visit to Kosovo, Battle said civil engineers were now urgently required to take some of the pressure off the military.

Utilities and essential services such as power and water are currently being run by British army engineers because hundreds of Serbian professionals have fled the country (NCE last week).

'There are things British firms can do immediately which will release the peacekeeping forces to do the jobs they are there to do,' said Battle. 'We want to see some action before the United Nations arrives to set up the civil infrastructure.'

But taskforce chairman Nigel Thompson, deputy chairman of Ove Arup, warned there would be 'very little opportunity for large construction contracts in the short term'. Although there were opportunities for technical assistance, facilities management work and materials supply, much of the repair work would be done locally, he said.

Thompson added: 'This was only the first step in the reconstruction and re-alignment of the Balkans. By having our foot in the door now we will be in a strong position for the much larger regeneration task which is expected in the future.'

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