Ministry of Electricity workers reconstruct high-tension power lines in Sayafiyah, south of Baghdad, Feb. 17. (U.S. Army photo)
FOB KALSU, Iraq (Feb. 20, 2008) — With assistance from coalition troops and Iraqi security forces, ministry of electricity workers are rapidly reconstructing three high-tension power line towers in Sayafiyah, 25 kilometers south of Baghdad.
Soldiers of Troop A, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and members of an Iraqi police security detail are providing security for 130 workers from the MoE rebuilding the structures, which form part of Baghdad’s ‘power belt.’
“There is a 400 kilovolt distribution ring that goes around Baghdad and this (section) is the southern part of it,” said 1st Lt. Matthew Shoop, electrical projects engineer, 2-3 Brigade Troop Battalion, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
Shoop said he worked with 3rd Inf. Div. leaders and officials from the MoE to iron out a plan for the repairs.
“Once we told them (MoE) that we could secure them, their response was, ‘pick a date, tell us when and we can go’,” Shoop said.
The masses of distorted steel and broken power lines resulted from a snapped power line which threw the equally-distributed tension off-balance, causing the three towers to buckle.
With workers spread out over three construction sites, the task of dismantling the old towers and rebuilding new ones was set to take 10 days.
Work began Feb. 14 and MoE workers quickly took apart the twisted wreckage. By day three, the remains of the old structures lay by the wayside.
Using hand tools and heavy equipment, the workers labored quickly and by the morning of day four, they had nearly completed constructing sections of all three towers.
Phillip Vizgaudis, scout section leader with Troop A, 5-7 Cav. Regt., said he was impressed with how much the workers accomplished in the short amount of time.
Vizgaudis and his Soldiers escort the workers from main roads to the construction site and are keeping the site secure.
Though the task seemed daunting, the work was nothing new to the workers who specialize in constructing these towers.
Hussein Lefta Mansoor, construction site manager for the MoE, initially told 2nd BCT leaders he and his workers could have the towers up in as few as 10 days. On day four of the operation, he cut the estimated completion time down to one week.
Shoop said once the towers are reconstructed and power lines put into place, the region could see a boost in their share of the power ration, which is metered out by the MoE.
With the present condition of the government of Iraq’s electrical infrastructure, Mansoor and his colleagues see no scarcity of building projects.
“Our specialty is what you see,” said Mansoor, pointing to his employees. “We are the only crew who specializes in this.”
With the current project targeted for completion Feb. 21, Mansoor is already thinking about his next tower-reconstructing assignment, dedicated to his role as a key player in the effort to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure.