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Royal engineers build record breaking Kabul camp

BRITISH ENGINEERS are racing against time to complete a 500 man camp in the Afghanistan capital, Kabul, before winter kicks in.

Camp Souter is the largest building site in Kabul and when complete at the end of October, it will give the British Forces a solid base for future operations.

'Although costing just £3M, an equivalent scheme in the UK would cost around five times more and I doubt a UK scheme could match our tight 15 week programme, ' said commanding officer and project manager, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Ogden in Kabul this week.

Afghan contractors have built little over the last 20 years, so in the design and build contract Royal Engineers have taken the role of client, structural engineer, quantity surveyor, consultant and project manager - on top of their military duties.

The works include a concrete slab, masonry wall, new build accommodation and the refurbishment of a heavily bombed two storey concrete frame fertiliser plant.

The 170 strong engineering team has already patched up the runway at Kabul Airport, laid drains and constructed secure water and electricity supplies for the camp. Over 360,000 items of unexploded ordnance have been cleared.

As well as the basic camp structure the second phase of works will include a 180m emergency road to the airport, guard rooms, a blast resistant entrance and permanent power and toilet services.

A third of the capital was flattened earlier this year when Northern Alliance forces stormed the Taliban's stronghold in Kabul.

Because all plant machinery was banned under the Taliban regime, the British army has flown in plant and materials by Hercules airplanes, said Ogden.

On top of the main project, engineers are working on selffunded small scale projects such as the restoration of orphanages, hospitals and schools.

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