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Demining the Long Bypass Road

By Maj. Ladislav Ruzicka
First published in
SFOR Informer #91, July 5, 2000

Sarajevo - One part of HQ SFOR Engineer Project 48 is the on-going construction of the "long bypass road" around SFOR's camp Butmir to ensure an access road for free movement of civilian traffic across the Inter Entity Boundary Line between Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) and Republika Srpska (RS).

The first very important task for engineers is the demining of the construction area, which is approximately 1,800m in length. The bypass has four sections. Section No. 1, about 400m, is actually along an existing road so it is completed. The remaining three sections must be constructed by SFOR engineers.

Before any building work could begin, the terrain needed careful de-mining. Spanish units dealt with mine survey of sections No. 3 and 4. They have deemed these sections clear. Engineers from three nations, Italy, Romania and the U.S., are sharing the task of de-mining Section 2.

Every section has a different surface. This determines what devices and methods the Engineers can use. Also, houses situated close to the construction area influence the techniques employed.

The Italian squad from MND- SE has arguably the most difficult terrain on their sector. Because of this, four people must do the demining only manual methods. It means that they have to check every 2.5 centimetre of ground by using a prodder and mine detector. They started the demining of their sector June 26, and they had checked 400m2 by June 30.
One member of the Italian squad WO2 Roberto Laureti has appeared in previous SFOR Informers in relation to the moment when he and a colleague saved a woman from a minefield near the Bratstva bridge in Sarajevo in 1996.
The Italian squad commander WO3 Attilio D'Angelo is very proud of his job. "I am very happy to do this job because I’m offering safety to the children that live around," he said.

Romanian Engineers led by Capt. Doru Apafaian assist US Army Engineers from MND-N with cleaning. The US Engineers are carrying out mechanical demining with a special armour-plated bulldozer. The Romanians are contributing with a bulldozer and a tipper.

Maj. Nancy Bergeron is the commander of the US Army Engineer unit in this demining. She does not foresee any big problems with the demining. But what is sometimes difficult is explaining to the local people "… what we are doing and why they need to stay out of the area when we are operating our equipment," said Bergeron.

It is also necessary to have good medical care available while de-mining. This is the responsibility of HQ SFOR CJ Med with personnel drawn from the German Field Hospital in Rajlovac. Their emergency medical service is located in the vicinity of the demining area.

And when will be the demining of this area done? According to Italian Capt. Antonio Micunco EOD Staff officer from SFOR HQ Engineer branch, "… it is easy to say when we will start, but it is not possible to say when we will finish." Micunco is responsible for coordination of work among the engineers of different nationality in this demining operation.

The person with overall responsibility for all of project 48 is US Navy Lt. Michael Lukich, Chief of Infra Projects at the SFOR HQ Engineer Branch. In his opinion, the demining of section No 2 will take about one month. According to Lukich the project of the "long bypass road" will continue with construction on section No 4 beginning July 5.

Related article: Part of Project 48 the Long Bypass route
Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Italy
Mines and De-mining