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Engineers learn a lesson from Kosovo

ICE news

CIVIL AND military engineers gathered this week at Great George Street for the Royal Engineer's lecture: Kosovo: an engineering partnership model for the future?

Chaired by former ICE president Roger Sainsbury, the evening began with Royal Engineers engineer in chief Albert Whitely describing the situation the Sappers found on landing in Kosovo's surrounding countries, following the Serbian withdrawal.

'Airports and the main routes into Kosovo needed to be prepared for incoming troops,' he said. 'We laid hardstandings, carried out route survey and strengthening programmes and set up temporary water supplies, accommodation and trench toilets for troops and refugees.'

Entry to Kosovo was the next hurdle. This meant further route surveys, bridge propping and explosive disposal, said Campaign Commanding officer, Colonel Glyn Taylor.

'We found neglected power stations, damaged fuel tanks, pumping stations, bridges, airports, roads and railways,' he said.

'The military immediately carried out emergency repairs. We removed refuse from the streets of Pristina and provided new boreholes and chemicals for water treatment.'

But it was obvious that long-term development and large-scale infrastructure repairs would have to be dealt with. So last June, a team - created from the Government and the private sector - was set up.

The British Trade International task force aimed to rebuild Kosovo's economy, but also to ensure UK companies played a part in the rebuilding. The task force quickly flew to Kosovo to seek out a flagship project to illustrate their commitment to their cause.

The country's two power stations, Kosovo A and B, were in a dreadful state. Both had been out of service but the military had managed to get Kosovo A, a 800Mw station working temporarily - albeit with outside help.

'The regiment had little knowledge about complex power stations,' said minister of state for the armed forces John Spellar. 'Eventually, the successful start-up was due in part to a mobile phone call between a regiment member and his brother who worked in the Australian power sector.'

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