Troops from 21 Engineer Regiment have replaced an important bridge linking the main highways and local communities in the city of Gereshk in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand Province.
The bridge, known as the ‘Golden Egg’, supports the work of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) helping them to maintain communications and operate freely across the region.
The original bridge was blown-up by insurgents and replaced by the Danish who christened it ‘Golden Egg’, a traditional name given to a bridge made for armoured vehicles. The Danish bridge was temporary and 21 Engineer Regiment has now replaced it with a permanent structure.
It is different to other bridges as the simple design allows for repairs and maintenance by local tradesmen using local materials. It is also now overlooked by an ANA checkpoint and has additional measures in place to prevent the insurgents from targeting it.
"enduring Afghan solution"
Lieutenant Henry Morton (26), the Commander of the team, said: “The bridge is a simple construction using natural materials reflecting an enduring Afghan solution. It should last for years once ISAF forces have left and any repairs can be completed by the local tradesmen.”
Staff Sergeant Nicolas Mason (37) said: “The locals have been quite positive and are keen to see the bridge in place. It will help the area to develop economically as the locals will be able to get to the market on Sundays to trade.”
The engineers have just arrived in the region and in the next six months they will be assisting with local infrastructure projects.
They will also be preparing checkpoints to handover to Afghan National Security Forces as they take the lead for their own security.
21 Engineer Regiment recruits mainly from the North West and is based in Ripon, North Yorkshire. They explained how the support from across the region has helped to maintain morale in the unit - this includes letters and photographs from Salford University Netball Team who have written to the troops hoping to meet up when they return to the UK in March 2013.
Staff Sergeant Nicolas Mason said: "We’ve got one lad from Liverpool whose mum works for Jacob Cream Crackers, who are sending out parcels which have been gratefully received.
"The support from across the North West has been great and is really appreciated.”