IN PICTURES: British sappers lay 'Golden Egg' in Afghanistan

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Royal Engineers from 21 Engineer Regiment have replaced an important bridge to assist the local population of Nahr-e Saraj, in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

The bridge, known as ‘Golden Egg’, links the main highways and local communities within the city of Gereshk. The bridge helps the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) maintain communications and gives them the freedom to operate bringing further stability and security to the region.

The original bridge was blown-up by insurgents and replaced by the Danish who christened it ‘Golden Egg’, a traditional name given to a bridge made for armoured vehicles. The Danish bridge was temporary and 21 Engineer Regiment has now replaced it with a permanent structure.

It is different to other bridges as the simple design allows for repairs and maintenance by local tradesmen using local materials. It is also now overlooked by an ANA checkpoint and has additional measures in place to prevent the insurgency from targeting it.

Lieutenant Henry Morton, the Commander of the team, said:

The bridge is a simple construction using natural materials, reflecting an enduring Afghan solution. It should last for years once ISAF forces have left, and any repairs can be completed by the local tradesmen.

Staff Sergeant Nicolas Mason said:

The locals have been quite positive and are keen to see the bridge in place. It will help the area to develop economically as the locals will be able to get to the market on Sundays to trade.

Angled planks of locally sourced timber top the finished bridge
Angled planks of locally sourced timber top the finished bridge [Picture: Corporal Jamie Peters, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The unit have just arrived in the region and over the next six months will be assisting with local infrastructure projects. They will also be preparing checkpoints to hand over to Afghan National Security Forces (ISAF) as they take the lead for their own security.

21 Engineer Regiment recruits mainly from the North West and is based in Ripon, North Yorkshire. They explained how the support from across the region has helped to maintain morale in the unit.

Staff Sergeant Mason said:

We’ve got one lad from Liverpool whose mum works for Jacob’s Cream Crackers, who are sending out parcels which have been gratefully received. The support from across the North West has been great and is really appreciated.