JCB, the world's third largest manufacturer of construction equipment, is donating a fleet of diggers worth $600,000 and sending a team of drivers to help with relief efforts in the south west region of China devastated by an earthquake.
The gift of six 3CX backhoe loader diggers was offered by JCB Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford as the full horror of the earthquake unfolded. The machines are destined for the earthquake zone in Sichuan Province and are now on their way from JCB's factory in Shanghai, where the company manufactures backhoe loaders specifically for the Chinese market.
JCB China is also sending six operators, including British JCB employee Joe Cook, aged 30, who works for the company in Shanghai as Product Promotions Manager. Joe, a native of Malton, North Yorkshire, and also formerly of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, volunteered to head for the earthquake zone with five Chinese colleagues. All are skilled at operator training and will stay with the machines in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, and train local drivers in the use of the machines in order for them to gain the full benefit of their versatility.
Four of the machines have already been earmarked for use by the Engineering Department of the Chinese Armed Military Police and the Engineering Corps of the Peoples' Liberation Army.
Sir Anthony Bamford said: “No-one watching the scenes of devastation on television could fail to be touched by the plight of the thousands of people affected by this terrible tragedy. I hope in some small way that JCB's donation of backhoe loaders can help the thousands of people who have been left trapped and homeless by this earthquake.”
The gift follows a series of other JCB machinery donations in recent years to other parts of the world hit by natural disasters, including the Asian Tsunami.
Sir Anthony added: “Donations of JCB machines have proved invaluable in recent years following natural disasters. In particular, they played a major role in relief work in southern India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia in the wake of the Asian Tsunami. We manufacture machines which are ideal for assisting in recovery efforts and we want to help alleviate the suffering wherever possible.”
The Chinese Ambassador to Britain, Her Excellency Madam Fu Ying, has thanked JCB and Sir Anthony for the donation. She said: “This is a kind and most generous response at a time of great tragedy for my country. These versatile machines are perfect for helping with the task of searching for survivors and for assisting in the huge clear-up operation which is needed to help our people.”
Joe Cook, who is currently on a two day, 2000km journey to the earthquake zone, said: “I have mixed feelings about going. On the one hand it's a unique opportunity to be able to help people who have been affected by this terrible disaster. On the other hand, I am quite nervous because I don't know what to expect when we get there. Our priority is to ensure these machines are put to good use in the round-the-clock recovery effort by training local people to operate them effectively.”
JCB has a history of assisting regions across the world hit by natural disasters. In 2004 the company donated over £1 million of machines to the Asian Tsunami disaster and JCB machines were deployed in southern India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. In 1999 JCB also helped with the earthquake disaster in Turkey, and in 2005 it joined a global relief effort in earthquake-torn India and Pakistan by donating over £500,000 worth of machines.
In November last year JCB donated a backhoe loader to help rebuild parts of Peru damaged by an earthquake which killed 650 people, left 1,000 wounded and around 30,000 people homeless. The same year JCB donated £100,000 worth of machines to help with the clear-up operation in a region of the Philippines devastated by a typhoon.