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VIDEO: 5,000 tonnes of explosives and fuel by the shipload: why St Helena’s airport builders are careful with matches

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video explosion 2013 04 640About 22 million litres of fuel and 5,000 tonnes of explosives will have been shipped out to St Helena for the island’s airport project by the time it is finished.

The scale of the challenge is brought home in a ten-minute video commissioned by airport contractor Basil Read and voiced by director Jimmy Johnston.

Click the pic to see the video
Click the pic to see the video

Even the supply ship itself, the NP Glory 4, is included on the list of equipment that has been pulled together for the job.

The vessel was from Thailand, its crane came from China, and the goods it carries come from all round the world, all gathered together in a bonded warehouse in Namibia.

It’s the biggest investment on the island in its history and the largest contract funded by the UK’s Department for International Development – costing £250 million.

According to the video, the project will have involved:

  • building a landing jetty and a 14-kilometre haul road
  • shipping out 120 items of heavy machinery
  • importing 27,000 tonnes of cement
  • installing tanks for 6 million litres of fuel
  • blasting and drilling 8 million cubic metres of rock…
  • … to raise the floor of a valley by 100 metres
  • building accommodation for 100 workers
  • designing and constructing a terminal building, lighting and navigation aids
  • procuring all the airport operating equipment, such as stairs and fire engines
Basil Read will operate the airport once complete
Basil Read will operate the airport once complete

By mid-2013 the South African contractor had 360 workers on the island – including 240 Saints – and another 70 managers and support staff in the UK and South Africa.

It expects to have about 450 people on the island at the peak of construction work.

The project has already made island history, as Jimmy Johnson points out: “On the 11 July 2012, our ship was first to voluntarily touch land on St Helena.

“There’s been a few others that didn’t do it voluntarily and they’re scattered around the island.”

He adds: “Basil Read are extremely proud to be involved in this project. It is very prestigious, it’s unique, and it’s going to change the lives of the Saints.”


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