Written statement to Parliament

Gifting of bridges to the Government of Afghanistan

Foreign Secretary sets out plans to gift six logistical support bridges, & spares pack for maintenance of bridges to Helmand DPW.

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

The Rt Hon William Hague

Foreign Secretary William Hague:

UK Military operations in Helmand Province involved the extensive use of temporary logistical support bridges. Whilst temporary in nature and used to support military movements, the local populations have in some instances become highly reliant on these bridges for access over the Helmand canal and river systems. Ownership of these assets is therefore being transferred to the Helmand Department for Public Works (DPW) to help sustain economic and security benefits made to date in Helmand Province. The bridges will support freedom of movement in Helmand, which underpins commercial links and the provision of security and basic services for the local population.

The departmental Minute laid today sets out our plans to gift six logistical support bridges, costing £1.633m; and one spares pack for maintenance of the bridges, costing £1.014m, to the Helmand DPW. The gift will be acknowledged by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK Government and the Helmand DPW.

In addition to provision of the bridges and maintenance packs themselves, the UK is also providing funding for the Helmand Government to maintain the bridges and other infrastructure. The UK Government is also building the skills of the Helmandi workforce to operate and maintain the bridges. This work is part of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team’s Sustaining Economic Infrastructure in Helmand project and supports the wider Conflict Pool objective that “effective district administrations ensure that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan control over districts in the Central Helmand River Valley is sustained without reliance on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).”

The gift has been assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The MOD has confirmed that the UK Government have no objections to the release of these items to the Afghanistan Helmand Department for Public Works.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the departmental minute was laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

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Published 20 March 2014