Denel Mechem has received several new demining contracts, in Kuwait and the DRC, and continues to expand into the field camp business with additional contracts from the United Nations in Somalia.
Ashley Williams, General Manager of Denel Mechem, a division of Denel Land Systems, told defenceWeb his company has received a new demining contract in northern Kuwait, from a construction firm on behalf of an oil company. The contract involves clearing mines left over from the invasion by Iraq more than a quarter of a century ago.
Mechem also has two demining contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), one with the United Nations and one sponsored by fund money. Work is being done out of Goma. The company has just been awarded a three-year United Nations contract in Abyei, the contested region between Sudan and South Sudan, and is also active in Angola and Mozambique
The United Nations is a major user of Mechem’s explosive remnants of war disposal services. Recent demining work has taken place in Libya, Senegal, Western Sahara, the DRC, South Sudan, Mozambique and Angola.
Field camp services have become a big part of the company’s business portfolio, being worth around R100 million a year. Mechem has received a large three-year United Nations camp contract in Somalia, covering four towns/cities: Mogadishu, Kismayo, Baidoa and Beledweyne. Williams said other camp opportunities were on the horizon and these involved both the United Nations and private operators. For instance, mining and other private companies are interested in field camp solutions – Mechem has supplied camps to Sasol in Mozambique for work on the gas pipeline there.
The camp business got going in 2009 when the United Nations moved into Mogadishu, Somalia. Since Mechem usually had to set up its own camps when deployed, the company has extensive experience in this area. As a result, Mechem established camps for the UN throughout Somalia.
Mechem recently received two three-year training contracts with the United Nations to train its troop contributing countries in explosive ordnance disposal, vehicle operation etc. Williams said he was “chuffed” with those new contracts.
Meanwhile, in South Africa Mechem is bidding for the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) Project Teamster, which seeks to replace the SANDF’s mobile kitchen capability. At the moment the military’s current mobile kitchens are gas fired and this is problematic because it is prohibited to fly with gas and obtaining a gas supply in foreign countries can be difficult. As a result, the SANDF is seeking around 800 diesel fired kitchens worth an estimated R2 billion. Some will be in simple trailers while others will be in large trucks with up to 28 stoves.
In December last year Armscor released one of the first Teamster tenders, for a field cooking unit for 15 people. Mechem has submitted its bid in conjunction with its partner Weatherhaven RCS. Desert Wolf is also bidding for the contract.
Another SANDF project Mechem is aiming for is Project Pirate, the SANDF’s requirement for a new generation hand-held mine detector for the SA Army Engineer Corps. Mechem teamed up with Minelab for this project. Williams said that a practical test was done in February/March and Mechem is awaiting the results of its tender submission.
Mechem specialises in mine clearance, removing the explosive remnants of war (ERW), manufacturing mine protected vehicles (notably the Casspir NG2000) and mine clearing equipment, and providing canine training and services (for explosives and drug detection).