INTERFET: Sappers join forces to rebuild East Timor

Story by CAPT John Toohey
Sappers from two continents have recently joined forces under the INTERFET banner to ensure the roads and streets of the ravaged city of Dili remain open and safe to travel for the people of East Timor.

Engineers from Australia's 21st Construction Squadron are working side by side with the Kenyan contingent's 12th Engineer Battalion to shore up the often dangerous and neglected roads that lead into and span the now bustling capital.

The program of works will see the INTERFET sappers fill and seal the city's pitted and pot-holed streets and repair many of the treacherous highland roads surrounding Dili.

"The work that is being done is an effort to cut down on the damage and potential for accidents which the current road system poses," said Major Peter Ruff from HQ INTERFET Force Engineer Cell.

" It is very important that we keep the roads open and useable for the local population because from this other rebuilding can prosper".

In a proactive initiative INTERFET has also employed 90 local laborers to assist the sappers with their task. "We are endeavoring to use local workers who have some experience in road work and maintenance for the job," said Ruff " and for those who don't have the experience the job will provide them with an opportunity to learn a new skills set which will help their community."

In a further initiative, INTERFET will provide those locals who display satisfactory competencies on the job with a reference for future employment.

The sappers from both nations are also benefiting from this program of rebuilding. "The guys really appreciate working with other nations," said Captain Nathan Archer, Second-in-Command of the Australian Construction Squadron.

"We are all getting a lot out of this job. Everyone is bringing different skills sets and experience to it that we can all learn from."

"The fresh perspective and motivation of the Kenyan guys also spurs us on and fuels a really positive and competitive edge between the units which is excellent".

An edge which will also help fuel the machinery for rebuilding the country of East Timor.