In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, government is to erect a 40km fence within a month at the Beitbridge border to ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross the border into South Africa from Zimbabwe and vice versa.
Public works & infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille made the announcement at a media briefing in Cape Town on Thursday.
“In terms of section 27 (2) (I) of the Disaster Management Act … I have invoked emergency procurement procedures in relation to the erection and repairs of the border fences, east and west of the Beitbridge Border Post,” she said.
De Lille said the fence was in line with a raft of interventions announced by the president on Sunday when he declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster. He directed that South Africa’s borders and ports be secured with immediate effect.
“The president stated that 35 of the 53 land entry points will be closed. This measure will, however, not be effective if the fences at the border are not secure, which in many places, they are not,” said the minister.
De Lille issued a directive to her department on 16 March allowing them to proceed with emergency procurement procedures.
The following day, her department and the department of defence and defence force undertook diligence and site inspections and it was identified that a fence – 40km long and 1.8m high – be erected 20km on either side of the Beitbridge land port entry.
“Yesterday, 18 March, the specifications were finalised and all of the emergency supply chain management processes were undertaken. Yesterday, the contractor was appointed.”
The minister said the site would be handed over to the contractor on Thursday, 19 March, for work to commence.
“Due to the project being an emergency, my department has instructed the contractor to substantially increase the number of teams deployed and the rate of delivery tenfold.”
De Lille said the cost of the project is approximately R37.2-million.
All 40km of fence will be finished within one month and local labour will be sourced by the contractor. — SANews