20 firms invited to bid for border demining job

20 firms invited to bid for border demining job

20 firms invited to bid for border demining job

A Turkish soldier handles a landmine unearthed during work to demine the area of an ancient city on the Syrian border in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry has announced a shortlist of 20 companies that have reached the final round in the tender to clear Turkish mines from locations along the Syrian border.

Washington-based Sidar Global Advisors, which has been covering the bidding process, wrote in its most recent analysis that on Feb. 23 the Defense Ministry hosted the representatives of the selected companies in a private meeting at the Ankara headquarters of the Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK). At the meeting, officials briefed the bidders on the project and distributed project documentation. According to the plans, companies will submit their price proposals by June 15 and the ministry will make a decision on Nov. 15. The actual demining operation will not begin until March 15, 2013.

NATO’s Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) is also involved in the process, and they will award a contract for the provision of quality assurance services, according to the agency’s website.

According to sources familiar with the bidding process, the current civil unrest in Syria is of great concern. By naming the final bidders for the demining project, Turkey is signaling that it believes the Syrian crisis will end soon. However, Bashar al-Assad’s persistent refusal to bow to international pressure and Russia and China’s stubborn stance against any concrete international action suggest the situation may drag on for some time.

Police Foundation makes the shortlist

There are some big names on the shortlist as well as some surprising newcomers. Large traditional defense contractors including Tepe/Nurol and construction giants such as Cengiz, IBA, Kolin, Güneş and Hema made it to the final list. The big surprise is the Turkish Police Foundation, which made the shortlist together with its partner FTCR Cromak.

According to Sidar Global’s report, the area that will be demined covers a vast 53,375 acres in the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Mardin and Şırnak, approximately 80 percent of which is suitable for agricultural use and 70 percent of which is irrigable. Sidar estimates the annual net income from agriculture in the demined areas could top $20 million. 

Humanitarian considerations include frequent accidental mine detonations along the Turkey-Syria border, which account for the majority of the country’s total deaths and injuries from land mines. People herding cattle, picking wild herbs or collecting firewood in the area run a constant risk of tripping mines. 

According to local NGO the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey, one person is killed or maimed by land mines in the area every three days, an average that has not changed since Turkey ratified the Ottawa Convention, which prohibits the use of anti-personnel mines.