The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has awarded a contract to Organisation for Mine clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR).

The Afghanistan-based organisation will be responsible for performing additional clearance of five firing ranges in the Bamyan province in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Directorate of Mine Action Coordination will oversee the clearance work. The contracts are valued at $3.7m.

Selection of OMAR follows a competition launched in February. It was shortlisted from among ten other competitors.

In a statement, NZDF said: “The tender document released by the NZDF in early February placed greater weight on aspects such as health and safety, methodology and qualification of personnel involved than on price. It also placed an emphasis on mine awareness education.”

According to NZDF, the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the contract process and is expected to further impact the project.

The ranges were previously used by NZDF Provincial Reconstruction Team to fire non-explosive small-arms rounds and high-explosive rounds. The team left the country in 2013.

Prior to firing operations by NZDF team, the Russian and US forces used the land to conduct live firing.

The clearance is estimated to conclude in 52 weeks. However, de-mining work will be carried out in two calendar years due to the unfavourable conditions in the province.

An initial assessment and establishment of field offices has already started by a team sent by OMAR. Following this, non-technical survey teams will commence work in the area.

The new standard for range clearance will be followed. It was introduced by the International Security Assistance Force.