The demining machine | © HI
Alongside 50 weapons clearance experts working in Chad, HI uses a remote-controlled platform, a German-made GCS 200, to clear large areas in record time.
Five meters long, two meters high, and weighing nearly a ton, the GCS 200 weapons clearance platform used by HI in Chad can be remotely controlled up to 800 metres away. Its front arms rotate at nearly 3,000 rpm. They dig 20 centimetres into the ground and destroy all explosive devices in their path. Mines, bomb remnants and more are instantly torn to pieces.
Built by the German company GCS especially for HI, this machine can clear up to 3,000 sq.m. in one day - compared to 100 sq.m. on average for a weapons clearance expert. It is incredibly robust and can be used under extreme conditions. However, there are a few precautions to take, particularly in terms of the weather and heat.
"On very large, relatively flat, non-vegetated sites, such as the desert where we are currently working near Faya-Largeau, the weapons clearance platform provides considerable assistance to demining teams," explains Jason Mudingay Lufuluabo, head of weapons clearance operations in Chad. “It is very effective. Each time the machine goes over an area, the weapons clearance experts carry out a final check to make sure it didn’t miss anything, that it has cleared the weapons and that the land can be restored to local people."
Northern Chad was heavily contaminated by the conflict with Libya in the 1980s. Remnants of bombs or munitions used in combat or simply abandoned by troops when they withdrew are found in many areas where fighting took place. There are also many minefields.
HI plans to clear 1.5 million sq.m. of land in Chad in four years. With more than 500,000 sq.m. already cleared, it has achieved a third of its goal.
These weapons clearance operations restore the use of tracks and land to local people, who can grow crops and rear livestock again. This opens up the Faya-Largeau region, which has been slow to develop due largely to explosive remnants of war.