Four members of 20 Field Squadron from 36 Engineer Regiment have been busy this week widening an access road for local residents in Avdimou, near Ayios Thomas, outside the Bases.
The engineers, who are currently in Cyprus as part of Exercise Pinestick, made the decision to down tools on the work they were carrying out across British Forces Cyprus and answer the call from local residents who were in desperate need of greater access to their farmland.
Staff Sergeant Ralph Mitcheson, the plant foreman working on the five day job, explained the reason his fellow engineers took the task on at such short notice.
He said: “Many parts of this track are simply inaccessible for vehicles and there is an almost sheer drop off of the side. You can’t get a 4x4 down the track and the residents have also told us that they have had a big problem with fires - there is no way that emergency services can get down the track.”
The job, which uses a clearance method called a side hill cut, is expected to cover approximately eight kilometres of track when finished and despite the rather treacherous terrain, Staff Sergeant Mitcheson revealed it is an excellent opportunity for his troops to practise their trade.
“This is what we are trained to do and to get the opportunity to apply our skills in a situation like this is extremely useful training,” he said.
Captain Alex Griffiths, the Squadron Ops Officer, who has been on site assessing the progress of the task, said he saw it as not only an opportunity for his troops to hone their skills, but as an opportunity to give something back to the local residents.
He said: “We would like to do more jobs like this in the future to help the local Cypriots, it may not look like much but the widening of this track will make a huge difference to those locals trying to get down it to their farms and of course to the emergency services should they need access.”
The work has clearly been appreciated by those living in the area and the local Mukthar has been a regular visitor to the site as work continues and he also revealed plans to celebrate its completion.
“We plan to have a barbeque when it is all finished to say thank you to them for their work. We needed it done because we have had bad fires in the past and the fire engines could not pass the track, we are very grateful.”