Metito Overseas, Limited
THE BAHRAIN EXCAVATION
So there I was, minding my own business, when Metito Overseas, Ltd, a construction company based in the United Arab Emirates, shows up asking me to submit a quote.
Not a quote to sell them a dozen stainless steel urinals or other industrial toiletania, as is usual with these irrelevant requests for quotes, but a quote to undertake a major construction project at the Bahrain national airport.
I couldn't just ignore this one. It took me a while to get around to responding, but eventually I did, attaching a number of pictures that seemed to help illustrate my quote.
But first, below is the request they sent.
From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Nov 5 03:38:40 2009 Received: from metito.com (220.127.116.11 [18.104.22.168]) by service43.mimecast.com; Thu, 05 Nov 2009 08:39:19 +0000 Received: from [192.168.1.58] (account mohammed.faour HELO LAPDOH970003) by metito.com (CommuniGate Pro SMTP 5.2.13) with ESMTPA id 33733; Thu, 05 Nov 2009 12:37:26 +0400 From: "Mohammed al faour" <email@example.com> Subject: FW: Lavatory service pit Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2009 11:38:40 +0300 Message-ID: <003a01ca5df3$603fa3e0$20beeba0$@firstname.lastname@example.org> X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook 12.0 Dear Sir We are water treatment co. in GCC , you can visit our www.metito.com we are quoting for one project in Bahrain Airport & we are looking for the following to be quoted by your co. 1- Lavatory Service pits ( Vacuum & Flushing ) 25Nos 2- Potable water pits 25nos 3- Please see the attached specs . ( Airplane Model - A 380 8 nos ( Lavatory pit & Potable pit ) B 747 8 nos ( Lavatory pit & Potable pit ) B 737 9 nos ( Lavatory pit & Potable pit ) Your immediate reply would be highly appreciated . Regards Mohammad Faour
Here is the attachment they sent.
Yes, it is just a fragment of one page.
Yes, the top of this page is missing, along with who knows what else.
Click here or on the picture to see the original.
It seems to be missing at least section A and the first of section B. It starts in somewhere in the middle of section B with:
POTABLE WATER PITS
Supply and installation of potable water pits including supply valve and connector, return pipe connection with check valve, 20 m long hose, shut off valves all necessary accessories all as specified.
C Potable Water Pits 25 No
Supply and installation of all necessary valves and vents on potable water and blue water piping systems including drain valve pits for the system for propoer [sic] operation.
D Isolating, pressure reducing and drainage Valves on the distribution network 1 LS
VACCUM [sic] AND LAVATORY SERVICES PITS
Supply and installation of Lavatory vacuum and blue water pits including vaccum [sic] valve and connector, flushing Connector and valve, chemical pipe connection, wiring to SMS, twenty meters of flexible duct and all necessary accessories all as specified.
E Lavatory Service Pits (Vacuum and flushing) 25 No
Below is what they received in return, with the several attachments sprinkled in as appropriate (many are thumbnails here with larger versions available when clicked).
Gentlemen -- You recently requested a quote: > Dear Sir > > We are water treatment co. in GCC , you can visit our www.metito.com we > are quoting for one project in Bahrain Airport & we are looking for the > following to be quoted by your co. > > 1- Lavatory Service pits ( Vacuum & Flushing ) 25Nos > 2- Potable water pits 25nos > 3- Please see the attached specs . ( Airplane Model - A 380 8 nos > (Lavatory pit & Potable pit ) > B 747 8 nos ( Lavatory pit & Potable pit ) > B 737 9 nos ( Lavatory pit & Potable pit ) > > Your immediate reply would be highly appreciated . > > Regards > > Mohammad Faour > 00974 5562797 I apologize for the delay in assembling this quote, but it was only now that we find ourselves in a fortuitous confluence of events. It could have been a grim and savage business getting the laborers into place, but as detailed below, things are now well underway! We have found in various projects in the past that building permits in your part of the world are, to be frank, an enormous pain and sink of baksheesh that is best avoided. Our usual mode of operation is to start the project "on spec" as it were, hoping that initial stages go well and meet with your approval. The quote then becomes one for the (relatively inexpensive and short-term) completion of a project already largely completed at extremely low cost to us given our innovative labor and material delivery. Reviewing your requirements, and to clarify the following, you asked for: 25 lavatory service pits and 25 potable water pits, divided into aircraft type and configuration as follows according to your RFQ: * 8 Airbus 380 * 8 Boeing 747 * 9 Boeing 737 In further detail, as per your PDF attachment 20091103151536617.pdf, the lavatory service pits should include lavatory "vacuum and blue water pits including vacuum valves and connector[s], chemical pipe connections, wiring to SMS, twenty meters of flexible duct and all necessary accessories all as specified". The potable water pits each need "supply valve and connector, return pipe connection with check valve, 20 meter long hose, [and] shut-off valves [and] all necessary accessories all as specified". Plus one master "isolating [and] pressure reducing and drainage valve" connecting the water pits to the water distribution networks. I assume that you realize that the top margin of your document and any preceding pages were cut off when you scanned it into a PDF file, but the meaning of the various columns is quite straightforward. Now, the plumbing details may well make up the bulk of the specification details, but these requirements are easily met. The much greater difficulty in a project such as yours is the production of the pits themselves. Here is where you will find that our operations exceeds your expectations! The first problem is cutting a clean pit perimeter into the existing airport tarmac. Our demolitions expert, Rudy "Fingers" McGee, has a great deal of experience in this area. Note that his nickname is not, as is common in his field of work, an ironic reference to past mishaps. No, through his meticulous attention to detail, Rudy has all his appendages. His colorful appellation instead refers to how he supported himself throughout the early 1980s by picking the pockets of tourists in Amsterdam, his adopted home at the time. He does keep his skills sharp, an ability we find very useful when in need of certain documents from uncooperative government officials. Anyway, by the mid 1980s Rudy had moved on to concentrate on his greatest interest, explosives. And he found work in a number of very interesting and successful, if unattributable, projects. For example, you don't really think that in 1989 those East Germans really dropped several kilometers of a highly reinforced Soviet-built wall in just a few hours using nothing but hammers and some gardening tools, do you?
Using that same system he pioneered then of a long thin cloth tube filled with thermite and tied to a length of detonator cord to be fired precisely 2.6 seconds after the thermite burn begins, a precise outline of the needed pit can easily be melted and cut through tarmac. (Rudy is perhaps overly fond of thermite and in need of creative outlets, so if you have any superfluous radio towers or chimneys you need dropped, please let us know.) Rudy should already be in Bahrain as he has been operating in the region. If some Iranian hydroelectric projects mysteriously suffer catastrophic failure when taken to just 70% of their original rated capacity, well, consider it a presentation of Rudy's bona fides, although of course we can't openly take credit for what will certainly have been a tragic failure of what appeared to be quite sturdy construction. Your border control people might have noticed an inbound crossing by someone with papers documenting an Albert Giardino, one of Rudy's favored noms de guerre. Once the tarmac is precisely cut, the brute force work of pit excavation begins. We shall apply a technique frequently employed in the region, the manual labor of indentured servants effectively owned by the Saudis. The problem of getting manual labor from Saudi sources is that, to put it into aircraft metaphorical terms, the choices are: Outright Purchase, Wet Lease, and Dry Lease. And the obvious problem with purchase of their human chattel is that the Saudis insist on initiating a paper trail, the very sort of thing that attracts busybodies like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and so on. Really, you would think that they have something better to do than harass businessmen simply trying to tap the vast manpower owned by the Saudis.
As for the metaphorical "wet lease", that is, the leasing of the labor and their support in nutrition and potable water, that is just an invitation to be overbilled by the Saudis. No, the only way to go is the "dry lease", renting the labor and providing for their support. The dry lease model has worked well for us in the past. Adequate food and adequately potable water can be obtained quite cheaply. Fortunately, some of our Chinese colleagues just happen to be returning a appropriately sized cadre of Saudi-owned laborers from an officially denied and undocumented road construction project in central Africa. That project put in a road from a new Chinese-operated cluster of nickel, titanium, and uranium mines to a newly constructed and exclusively Chinese port facility. As they were about to ship the laborers back to Saudi Arabia, we have simply extended the lease with the Saudis and transferred the laborers to this project. As part of the deal, the Chinese shippers will deliver them to a quiet stretch of Bahraini coast south of Ras Hayyan within the next ten days if all goes according to plan.
Expect to hear a distress call from a vessel identifying itself as the Chinese M/V Kwai-Chang Caine, and urge your Coast Guard to be less than usually vigorous in investigating this call.
The Bangladeshi laborers are being shipped in Chinese "ManPak" containers, a clever system using standard shipping containers subtly ventilated and cunningly equipped with floatation and stabilization devices. They can be lowered directly into the water by crane and towed to the shore with small motor launches. The Chinese have found that 70 men of slight build can be shipped for two weeks in a ManPak with losses of 5% or less, but we are giving them the relatively opulent packing of just 40 men to a container, the better to bring them to the work site in useful condition. An additional advantage is that the workers will be fully heat acclimated after their months in the Congolese jungle. This won't be like that ill-fated Laurentian Shield Expedition of the winter of 1992-93! Really, who sends Bangladeshi indentured laborers into far northern Quebec in the winter? And the goals of that project were questionable anyway, half-burying school buses in the muskeg bog well north of the tree line. Three ManPaks at 40 men each yields 120 laborers, or ten 12-man teams. Excavation brings a risk of pit collapse and worker loss. No doubt you are familiar with the debacle of the Kuwaiti Royal Garden Irrigation Project undertaken by a competitor of our a few years ago. It was shocking that they lost all but the three laborers who happened to be laid up with dysentery at the time (and it is mystifying to consider just what it would take to waylay Bangladeshis with dysentery). Our competitor's error was in dividing shoring and digging into two separate teams. A digging team that is responsible for its own shoring will of course be far more careful! Now, to get the pipe and pipe fittings to the site. A U.S. government agency's proprietary operation known as Conjectural Technologies and using the cover of an obscure contractor providing extreme condition testing for Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engines needs a history of legitimate work in the region. This means that they will work as a subcontractor for a very low rate. We have worked with them in the past (CT, that is, not RR), they are quite competent. Given some favors owed our operation by a certain Emirate further down the gulf coast from you, our air assets are effectively free -- hence our ability to get the project underway "on spec". You may be concerned about possible mishaps with covert aerial delivery of large amounts of iron pipe, and I would assume that you are thinking of the ill-fated 1988 Harare Pipe Drop. The controversy was out of all proportion to any physical damage done, and I must side with those analysts who said that there really was no significant damage done: the defects in the parliament building's roof were pre-existing and due to a long lack of scheduled maintenance. The ironic fact that one of the pipes happened to skewer the corrupt defense minister's limousine like an over-sized martini olive was undoubtedly the sole cause of the ensuing excitement. While it is fortunate that the limousine in question was sitting empty at the time outside the apartment building where the defense minister's mistress lived, one can't help but speculate whether the following spring's border incursion into Malawi might not have happened had the pipe drop gone more smoothly. Well, live and learn.
Rest assured that we have learned from mishaps in the past, both ours and those of our competitors in this field, and high-altitude pipe drops will not be a part of this project. No, this operation calls for a high-speed low-altitude pipe drop. What's more, our chief pilot in this project, Holland M Murdock (formerly Captain, USAF, discharged from active service under obscure conditions), has suggested a four-plane sequential drop. His illustrious background in low-profile unconventional air deliveries gives us high confidence in his plan. The first drop will happen forty minutes after the last scheduled arrival has cleared the runways and taxiways. If that flight keeps its schedule, this would be at 0210. Our inbound aircraft will identify itself in rather excited Korean as an obscure Korean cargo line (Murdock being fluent in Korean thanks to close to a decade with a Korean common-law wife). Korean airlines are notorious for confusing runways with taxiways, so the misalignment of the flight will not be remarkable, although the maintained high speed will be unusual even by Korean standards. The pipes will be strapped to soft wood pallets that will be slid out the rear cargo ramp at high speed and an altitude of 30 meters or less. Our experience in this area is that the soft wooden pallets will be completely reduced to splinters on contact with the tarmac at a velocity well over 300 kph. The pipes will follow a straight trajectory, not quite aligned with the taxiway and rapidly slowing and stopping in the exterior-side sand. Given the complete darkness at the time of the drop, it should be quite spectacular with all the resulting sparking of high speed iron pipe sliding across pavement.
The key, as Murdock has pointed out, is to then make second and third drops (of similarly spectacularly sparking metal pipes) at ten and twenty minutes after the initial drop (nominally 0220 and 0230). Rapid sequencing strongly discourages close investigation. The local authorities will wait until first light to venture onto the field lest their vehicles be skewered by the sudden arrival of yet another drop. Meanwhile the forewarned Bangladeshis will have just enough time to recover each set of pipes before the next drop. The fourth drop, scheduled for 30 minutes after the first (nominally 0240), will be of telephone poles and surplus railroad ties and short rail segments rather than pipes. The rail segments and ties and telephone poles, all of the poles pre-cut in half into lengths of six rather than the standard twelve meters, will be used for shoring.
The key is to make the drops on the taxiway centerline and shatter the pallets, so the pipes, poles, ties, and rails slide down the tarmac and off to one side. In the Bougainville project, half the pipes were lost in the deep mud so prevalent in New Guinea at that time of year. And the typhoon, which was just starting (that project was plagued by poor timing) delayed the resupply flight by three weeks. By then a new cargo cult had formed. A few dozen native cargo-culters were killed in the second drop because they had painted themselves white and laid on the tarmac as if they were stripes, so as to propitiate the Gods of Cargo. While the tribe accepted the loss as divine retribution, the local authorities were unhappy with the resulting media attention. Our loadmasters, responsible for precisely timing the drop of the pallets out the rear cargo ramps, have trained under Eugene Hasenfus himself. If you know your 1980s Central American history, and I'm sure you do, he is the guru of precisely dropping unusual cargo into tight spots from unlighted aircraft. Yes, he also has a problem with remembering not to talk after capture, but then he wasn't supposed to have been wearing a parachute on that Nicaraguan mission and so his post-crash behavior should not have been an issue.
Our last operation involving both Hasenfus and Murdock was the somewhat mysterious (at least to the outside world) Sri Lankan Bus Plunge in late 2004. Murdock's reputation is that he can fly anything with control surfaces, but he was sorely tested this time. A large bus, significantly reduced in height by an excited driver's attempt to pass under a low bridge, was dropped onto an LTTE regional headquarters. One key to accurately dropping a rear-engined bus is to roll it out the cargo ramp nose-first, so it enters the airstream as essentially just a heavy diesel engine with an empty chassis forming relatively light stabilizing "tail" behind it. The tail section of a Cessna 172 was fastened to the front of the bus (which would, of course, form a tail for the bus once in flight), controlled by a modified model aircraft control system. A video camera mounted just above the engine linked a "pilot's-eye view" back to the virtual bus flight deck on board the dropping cargo plane, from which Murdock "flew" the bus. The drop was from 9,000 feet for three reasons: high enough for a nearly vertical terminal trajectory, low enough that a skilled drop artist like Hasenfus could put it within three city blocks just from physics alone, and allowing just enough time for Murdock to get the feel of the very limited control and hopefully nudge it to the specific building, a converted school making up an entire block within the tightly packed Bhendi Bazaar district of Jaffna.
It was a spectacular success -- Hasenfus nailed the small "drop window" for deploying the bus at altitude, and despite some initial worries, Murdock managed to guide the bus almost exactly into the very center of the target building. The relatively delicate Cessna tail section and associated electronics were completely obliterated in the passage through the roof, the top floor gymnasium, and the five floors of school rooms converted to offices and storage areas below that. The LTTE operation was destroyed, and the Sri Lankan police adamantly insisted that it was "a simple bus wreck", despite the bus's entry clearly being through the roof and the building's location within a densely packed market with the nearest passageway wide enough for a rickshaw some three hundred meters away.
As for the valves, elbows, angles, tees, and other fittings, they will be threaded onto the ends of the pipes in the first three drops. While rubber encasement (as employed in the successful Operation Pakistani Ball Drop) can be used for valve delivery, it is far better in your case to attach them temporarily to pipes. Rubber balls containing valves and other fittings are hard to contain when dropped at high speed into in a flat and open setting such as yours. Operation Pakistani Ball Drop was a high-altitude drop into an urban setting, an entirely different matter when dropping heavy iron pipe fittings encased in hard rubber balls.
All that remains is installing the pipes in the pits and plumbing them into the existing infrastructure, plus making the electrical connections to SMS. Those are, relatively speaking, minor details. When we have a more concrete estimate of the cost of that step, we will be back in touch. Bob Cromwell