COVID-19: Govt invokes emergency procurement to repair border fences with Zimbabwe

Image credit: Twitter/Patricia de Lille

The government has invoked emergency procurement procedures to install and repair border fences east and west of South Africa’s Beitbridge border post with Zimbabwe.

Patricia de Lille, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, made the announcement at a press briefing on Thursday in Pretoria.

She said the decision is part of government’s efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, adding, “This is to ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice-versa.”

40km in one month

De Lille said a multi-departmental team made site inspections on Tuesday this week and decided that 1.8m-high fences have to be erected or repaired for 40km on either side of the border post.

She added that the project, which will cost approximately R37.2 million, will commence today (Thursday) and will be completed within one month.

As of Wednesday, South Africa had a total of 116 confirmed cases. The government has implemented a raft of measures to contain the spread of the virus, including travel bans as well as closures of 37 land and sea ports of entry.

The Beitbridge border post, the only one with Zimbabwe and one of the busiest in the country, is however not affected by the closures.

State-owned properties as quarantine sites

De Lille also announced that the government has identified 37 state-owned properties in all 44 districts and eight metros that could be used as quarantine sites.

“Some of these sites will be available to people living in informal settlements where there are no such facilities available,” she added.

The Minister said the Trompsburg and Ladybrand hospitals in the Free State could be used as quarantine sites.

In KwaZulu-Natal, properties in Durban North, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay and Port Shepstone have also been identified.

The Limpopo and North West provincial governments have identified four and 130+ sites respectively, according to de Lille.

She added, “We have engaged the construction, property and built environment industries on the interventions they are implementing to boost hygiene measures, keep the industry safe and keep business going as far as possible.”

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