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Servest providing security on international venture to build the world’s largest radio telescope

Servest Security has partnered with Square Kilometre Array (SKA) on a project to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

SKA South Africa is currently embarking on the SKA South Africa Land Acquisition Programme, which is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. The desert regions of South Africa provide the perfect radio quiet backdrop for the high and medium frequency arrays that will form a critical part of the SKA’s ground-breaking continent wide telescope.

The five-year contract which commenced in November last year, and is said to be worth £1.13 million, will see Servest provide full security services to the areas in which the project envelopes.

One of the key challenges associated with the project stems from the fact that the operation will be undertaken in the remote area of Karoo. Due to the sensitivity of the telescope’s radio signal receivers, cell phones, GPS and tracker systems are prohibited. The nearest towns are 200 kilometres away so the availability of security officers within the region is limited.

Servest will initially begin with a team of 16 security professionals responsible for protecting the site and the safety of many international visitors. As the telescope grows and the project begins to encompass more ground area, Servest will increase its team to 34 employees.

Team members will also encounter extreme weather conditions, between -8 to 45 degrees Celsius. The prominence of poisonous snakes may also pose a challenge, as will the presence of large antelope on the roads after dark.

Speaking about the contract award, Rob Legge, Servest Group CEO, said:

“This is a very exciting project and we’re delighted to be part of it. SKA is a major international venture and our association with the programme reiterates our standing as an international facilities management company, with the experience necessary to execute such a unique security contract. The win has extended Servest Security’s footprint in the Northern Cape Province where we are already involved with many solar farms.”

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