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An outlaw Polish company in Western Sahara

An outlaw Polish company in Western Sahara

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10 June 2016

Since February 15, 2016, the Polish company Geofizyka-krakow is in occupied Western Sahara. The company announced on its website that it operates in Morocco in agreement with ONHYM, National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of the Moroccan state.
According to our sources, the area covered by the activities of the Polish company seismic survey is a vast area which its diagonal axis would be Boucraa – Boujdour.
The activities over natural resources in Western Sahara a land listed as a Non-Self-Governing Territory by the United Nations are conditioned in international law by the will of the Saharawi people - so its consultation and agreement - and for their benefit. Nothing in this context happened and that makes the presence of the Polish company illegal
Our research shows that the activities related to an open tender on price quotations Nr. 26/2015 of 07.30.2015 "Benefits of acquisition and processing of seismic data 2D (Lemsid area)".proposed by ONHYM for the Moroccan government, which militarily occupies the western part of our country. See the tender document here,
http://ao.onhym.com/Documents/AO%2026-2015%20-%20CPS%20SIGNE.pdf.
Seismic research is planned for 7 lines crisscrossing the area, a total of 950km according to the tender seismic survey, the company has 330 days to complete.
The first lines to be studied come from Khayyat Essba’a to Lmsyed near the Atlantic coast, north of Boujdour, about 200km. the second goes from Lemsyed to Lgelta.
The operations of preparing and tracing the ground have begun 15 February after a week of rapid verification by the Moroccan army of landmines risks and remnants of war. After the tests period, the seismic survey officially started on May 17.
On site nearly of hundred people are presented, Polish and the Moroccan employees of the company, Saharawis and Moroccans outsourcing contract for menial tasks, and the Moroccan army. It seems that Onhym is the intermediary between these various entities.
In the level of mobile hardware, there are 7 large white trucks of seismic surveys (seismic vibrator truck) without registration, 2 small orange trucks for maintaining the white trucks and another one called “the laboratory” which receives vibrational data, and 52 4x4 vehicles.
At Boucraa, the Polish company installed, with the help of the Moroccan army, a district of 10 prefabricated bungalows for accommodating at first the Sahrawis and Moroccans drivers and cleaning employees. Each of these prefabricated bungalows must serve 10 people. A kitchen with a dining room runned by a team of cookers and their assistants.
It is in this headquarters that the transport and study vehicles of the company are parked, and materials stored. The headquarters is surrounded by a berm and a fence.
At first, when they came, Polish and Moroccan employees were accommodated in luxurious houses belonging to the OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates) in the city of Boucraa before they joined the rest of the group in the prefabricated headquarters on May 22, 2016, As well as military battalions tasked with protecting them.

The organization of the seismic survey
The group of Lot Cleaning must remove by hand any stones present on the route of seismic survey over a width of 6 meters, then mark the ground using sand bags, and fix geophones connected with cables to the floor. Each day around 300 geophones are installed.
The topographers identify the precise locations where the bags are placed and geophones are set up.
This team, initially under the control of Moroccan superiors, had to clean and mark 3 to 4 kilometres a day. Recently, the Polish company demanded that this burden had to pass to 9 km per day under the same conditions (number of people, wages ...). This triggered reactions and strikes while working conditions were already not satisfactory. This will be a subject of our next newsletter.
Since May 17, 3 of the 7 white trucks move slowly towards the identified places, start at the same time all together and move at a speed of 5 km /h to undertake seismic surveys which will be studied later .

The work team on May 30th 2016 *
51 Sahrawi are hired without a contract by Logisteam for 3 months, drivers and different personnel according to a provision 4X4 with driver, paid 13000, 10000 DH for the vehicle and 3000 DH for the driver. They work 12 hours a day without any weekly rest.
Vehicle and gas oil maintenance are the responsibility of the Polish company.
A Moroccan driver in the same group came from Casablanca with a rented 4x4 vehicle registered in this same city. His working conditions and employer are not known to our sources.
6 Moroccan drivers drive the white and orange trucks. They have signed contracts with Logisteam and do not have the weekly rest.
50 men, 20 Saharawi and 30 Moroccan, hired to clean and prepare the ground are under contracts with Africa Partnership for 3 months, 12 hours of daily work, without weekly rest, for a salary of 3000 DH (235 Euros) per month. They are lodged and fed in the headquarters.
6 Moroccan topographers, employer and contract still unknown, work 12 hours each day without weekly rest. They are housed and fed at the headquarters.
20 Poles, a project manager, two charged with finance and 17 engineers with room and board at the headquarters, but they do not have any weekly rest.
16 Moroccan cooks work 12 hours a day with no weekly rest and lodge in the prefabricated headquarters. Their employer and wages are still unknown to our sources.
2 Sahrawi cook assistants have contract with Afrique Parenariat, they are working in the prefabricated headquarters 12 hours a day, with no weekly rest, to a monthly salary of 3000 DH /month.
For Logisteam company the recruitments are provided by the co-director Yahdih Sidi Youssef a Sahrawi contractor with experience in the seismic survey sector since he worked with oil exploration companies on the Zag area, south of Morocco. The company’s headquarters is in Casablanca.

The occupation army
The Moroccan army has two battalions of 10 people. The first battalion, under the command of a warrant officer, is responsible for the Poles. Each soldier has an M-16 rifle and move with the Polish individually or in groups to ensure their safety. They sleep and eat at the headquarters.
The other group of the FAR, independent, commanded by Captain Cotto, is a specialized demining group. They are responsible for decontaminating the 7 lines defined in the seismic survey. They sleep and eat at the headquarters which is a few kilometres away from Boukraa.
According to our sources, their work is linked with the Moroccan government and not with the Polish company, According to witnesses, they are equipped with a metal detector equipment of a "frying pan" type.

Équipe Média, El Aaiun
occupied Western Sahara
June 8, 2016

* More information about strikes and their consequences to be followed up.

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