Debswana answered in grand style an invitation by BOT50 secretariat to be part of the float procession during last week’s Golden Jubilee celebrations by doing the unthinkable – a public display of their gigantic Caterpillar 785 Dump truck.
This has never ever been done in the company’s 47-year old history. BOT50 had invited Debswana given the role that diamonds have played in the Botswana economy since 1969. The original request was for Debswana to build models of key features such as plants and earth moving machinery during the float, but they decided against the idea as they realised it was not going to have the impact they desired.
Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager, Matshidiso Kamona revealed that they identified the Caterpillar 785 Dump truck as the most viable option because it would be easier to transport from Jwaneng to Gaborone. That did the trick.The many Batswana who packed the national stadium and those watching on television both at home and at the fan parks were thrilled as some were physically seeing the truck for the first time.
To add ambience, Debswana provided 100 employees to parade as the truck entered the stadium during the opening of the celebrations on Independence Eve. About 80 of these miners were employees born in 1966. To ensure safety of all as well as safe delivery of the heavy duty machinery, Debswana engaged their reputable business partners to assist in bringing the gigantic machine to Gaborone
Kamona explained that Debswana and Barloworld equipment, which are responsible for maintenance and repairs of the Caterpillar truck, reached an agreement to mobilise the transportation of the vehicle from Jwaneng. Barloworld was responsible for all the technical aspects of the truck, including the necessary servicing and mechanical works. The truck was taken out of the production line and checked into the Barloworld workshop for all the necessary works including cleaning up, painting and tyre replacements.
Barloworld coordinated a 100-tonne crane used to remove the bowl from the chassis. To transport the chassis and the bowl from Jwaneng required ultra-heavy duty haulage equipment and for that VTH was identified as a partner to carry out the job. Two massive flatbed trucks were mobilised from Gaborone to collect the truck from Jwaneng. They had to arrive a day earlier to ensure that the drivers and everybody involved are taken through the necessary health, safety and security checks before beginning the work.
The two flatbed trucks left Jwaneng Mine on 24 September at around 08h00 for a four hour drive to Gaborone through Ranaka as there were some road works around the Moshupa area-there was only one lane available and it was going to be impossible for the truck to manoeuvre. With each carrying over 100 tonnes of equipment it had to be a very slow and carefully coordinated movement by the VTH staff, escorted by the Botswana Police. The trucks arrived safely at the grounds behind the national stadium and were kept under the stern surveillance of Botswana Police and the Botswana Defence Force. On 26th September the 100 tonne crane by Hoisting Solutions arrived from Jwaneng Mine to carry out the reassembling of the bowl on the chassis, coordinated by Barloworld Equipment. Once the bowl was safely in place the Barloworld team completed the necessary checks on the truck to ensure it was safe and ready to join the float.
The person to operate it safely inside the stadium was one of the seasoned 785 operators, Lister Boleseng from Jwaneng Mine who would be confident and skilled enough to manoeuvre the tight entrances and corners. “We had to walk the route that the truck would take into and out of the stadium a few times with all relevant stakeholders to pick out any possible obstacles and safety hazards and have them attended to as early as possible. When dealing with a piece of moving equipment weighing a whopping 250,000kg with a height of over 5m and a width of about 6.2m, nothing is left to chance,” said Kamona.