An on-the-ground innovation by a committed military officer five years ago has morphed into an example of what “committed people can achieve” according to a Parliamentarian.
Samantha Graham-Maré, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow deputy public works and infrastructure minister, was part of the Portfolio Committee delegation that went to Umkhanyakude District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal to see first-hand the Jersey barrier project.
Jersey barriers are traffic barriers used to divert and narrow lanes and in this application are strategically positioned along the national border with Mozambique to prevent easy egress for stolen vehicles.
The concrete barriers are cast nearby and positioned where soldiers five years ago placed large rocks, sourced at no cost from a nearby quarry. Making the barriers is a provincial infrastructure and transport department undertaking with positioning the job of soldiers, working on intelligence.
The Jersey Barrier Wall Project, as it is termed by the KZN provincial government, covers 25 km of the national border. The project is in three phases with the first a hotspot due to high criminal activity. This phase moves west toward Tembe Elephant Park. Phase two is 8 km in length from the boundary of iSimangaliso Wetland Park toward Gate 6 and phase three is 9 km from Tembe Elephant Park boundary toward Pongola River.
Phase one started in May last year with a completion date of May 2020. The arrival of COVID-19 and the national state of disaster put paid to that and completion has been extended to November.
Reporting on progress, KZN departmental deputy director general Simphiwe Nkosi said reinforced concrete walling with SoilCem was the best alternative, providing tight and reliable security compared to other options. With just less than two months to go until deadline, 3 km of Jersey barrier was in position by 10 October when the committee was on site.