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Bomb disposal unit to get costly gadgets, five robots

Updated February 26, 2017
ONE of the bomb-disposal robots already in the Sindh police’s use.—White Star
ONE of the bomb-disposal robots already in the Sindh police’s use.—White Star

KARACHI: The current wave of terrorism in the country has led the Sindh police authorities to give the green signal for procurement of gadgets, tools and machinery, including robots worth millions of rupees, mainly to modernise its bomb disposal unit, officials said on Saturday.

The recent decision, they claimed, was going to pave the way for one of the biggest procurements of its history by the Sindh police’s bomb disposal unit as it ranged from anti-IED (improvised explosive device) robots to explosives detectors, while also including gadgets such as pocket jammers and bomb locators.

“The special branch, which actually looks after the Sindh police’s bomb disposal unit, is now in the process of seeking bids from local and international suppliers of such gadgets,” said an official citing details of the recent decision, with information about the items chosen for procurement and their number.

“The key items include five EODs (explosive ordinance devices) robots. Currently our unit is using a robot which was made available through a donation from the United Kingdom. A robot of this type costs around Rs10 million and the Sindh police are now procuring five of them in one go.”

Equipped with thermal and infrared cameras, a variety of sensors, signal jammers, extendable robotic limbs and a gun, which comes with a selection of barrels, he said this machine could transmit its findings back to an operator who could be a kilometre away. He said that when fully charged, the robot’s battery gives it 10 hours’ life, while it also has a long power cord. And running on a different frequency or special signal, it cannot be detected by radar.

The robot, weighing about 50 kilograms, comes with its own fully-equipped EOD vehicle. When it finds an IED or bomb, it has the capability of destroying its circuits using jammers, a water gun, or simply by firing at it.

“The aggressive procurement plan has been designed considering the level of threat which demands capacity building of the bomb disposal unit. It’s all being done through the Sindh police budget which has an annual plan for procurement of such gadgets and machinery for the unit,” he said.

The Sindh government has allocated in its current budget Rs82.3 billion for law and order in the province that includes police, jails, Rangers and other security agencies. In 2015-16, it had set aside Rs64.458bn which was an increase of 10 per cent from the outgoing financial year.

The robots’ procurement would cost the most in the recent list of items selected by the Sindh police authorities for its bomb disposal unit, which includes other machinery and modern tools.

“Apart from those robots, the Sindh police are procuring 31 explosive detectors, 10 portable IED jammers, 20 pocket jammers, seven bomb locators and four disrupting pig sticks,” said the official. “For the safety of the bomb disposal team and their technical assistance five new kits, 48 safety goggles and 14 high-definition binoculars are in the plan of procurement.”

For capacity-building of the personnel, he said, the Sindh police had made arrangements for providing training to bomb disposal unit’s team members through the British Army and the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States for handling the latest technology.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2017