The Sri Lanka Army said that the Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (SLEME) troops of the Army handed over the SLEME-produced nine modernized Unibuffels (improved version of Unicorns), one recovery vehicle and three containers to the shippers for passage to the Combat Convoy Company (CCC) of the Sri Lankan UN Peace-Keepers serving in Mali, a landlocked nation in West Africa, affected by an ethnic conflict.
Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army and Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak, as the Chief Guest for the occasion handed them symbolically to Rahileen Booram, Line Manager of Ben Line Shipping Agencies (Pvt) Ltd for onward shipping arrangements.
The landmine-resistant vehicles and equipment, produced locally using technical expertise of SLEME troops, save a large chunk of foreign exchange to the Government and the Army as they have been produced using imported spares on par with international standards to match UN specifications. The SLEME has been instrumental in producing those vehicles, identical to the South African ones for several years.
Speaking to the media, the Chief Guest commented: “We are very happy to have been able to ship this consignment of 9 Unibuffels and one foreign-manufactured recovery vehicle for use of 243 heroic Sri Lankan Combat Convoy troops serving UN Peace Keeping missions in Mali for the last two years. We have reached an understanding with the UN over the number of such vehicles that should be made available to those troops. Earlier, imported WMAZ vehicles, each costing about Rs 40 million was purchased for those UN troops which are very expensive. Those combat squadrons are generally supplied with those vehicles, but our skilled SLEME troops spending nearly one fourth of that expenditure, managed to produce those vehicles in an impressive manner even before this stock.”
At present 243 Sri Lankan UN Peacekeepers, including 20 officers and 223 other ranks, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Nihal Gallage, together with 65 vehicles are serving the Mali Combat Squadron. (Colombo Gazette)