BRITISH CONSULTANTS were poised to start work in Iraq, as the UK government assessed emergency reconstruction work options as NCEi went to press.
The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has told its framework consultants to get ready to send staff out to Iraq.
One of them, Halcrow, said that selected engineers had been in specialist training ahead of imminent deployment.
'We have been told to make the necessary arrangements so we can be called up at a moment's notice, ' said Halcrow director for Iraq Rab Brown.
Daily terrorist attacks on British and US personnel have heightened security concerns.
But British firms have hired security firms with ex-special forces staff to protect them when re-establishing old contacts on the ground in Iraq.
'Specially arranged courses have been provided to ensure our engineers know what to do in an emergency situation - including being shot at, ' said Brown.
Consultants Black & Veatch and Halcrow have already sent security trained engineers into Baghdad to scope future reconstruction work. But they are mainly looking at medium to long term opportunities rather than the emergency small scale projects that the DFID work is likely to cover.
Halcrow plans to set up an office in southern Iraq early next month. This will be headed by Brown before a Baghdad office is opened once the security situation allows.
'We aim to have the Baghdad office in place before the end of the year. This will be the permanent base for Halcrow Iraq, which will be an Iraqi company eventually run by Iraqi engineers, ' said Brown.