ATC201021: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure on an Oversight visit to The Jersey Barrier Wall (Kosi Bay Rsa/Mozambique Borderline, Kwazulu-Natal), Dated 21 October 2020
REPORT OF THE Portfolio Committee on Public WorksAND INFRASTRUCTURE on aN Oversight Visit to THE JERSEY BARRIER WALL (KOSI BAY RSA/MOZAMBIQUE BORDERLINE, KwaZulu-Natal), DATED 21OCTOBER 2020
The Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, having undertaken an oversight visit to the Jersey Barrier Wall on 9-11 October2020, reports as follows:
- Ms N Ntobongwana, MP (Leader of the Delegation)
- Ms L Mjobo, MP
- Ms L FShabalala, MP
- Ms S R Van Schalkwyk, MP
- Mr E Mathebula, MP
- Mr T Mashele, MP
- Ms S Graham-Maré, MP
- Ms M Siwisa, MP
- Mr W Thring, MP
The purpose of the visit was to gather insight into the maintenance and/or upgrade of the fencing and patrol roads on the border between the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and Republic of Mozambique (RM).
This oversight visit was focused on Phase 1 of a larger project being undertaken by the Departmentof Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI)to the upgradeand maintain border control infrastructure along the RSA-Swaziland border and the southern part of the RSA – Mozambique border.
Phase 1 consisted of a construction site and the actual installation site for eight kilometers(8 km) along the border by the KZN Department of Transport (DoT). At the construction site, teams comprising of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) beneficiaries would construct reinforced concrete wall structures in the form of Jersey Barriers, to be installed and reinforced with SoilCem, along the border fence stretching the 8km of phase.
Phase 1 of the larger project was prioritised for development because it was a high-risk area. In 2016, the community of Ndumo, UMkhanyakudecomplained and engaged in protest action about crime (smuggling), and the area was identified as the access point where significant numbers of stolen vehicles were being trafficked into the RM from RSA.
On 13 July 2016, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)and the Provincial Executive Council visited Ndumo, UMkhanyakude District Municipality, in response to this call for action by the community. The outcome of the visit was that the Premier issued an executive directive that a strategy had to be developed to improve the integrity of the Kosi Bay borderline.
Subsequently, a Border Line Management Committee (BLMC) comprising all relevant provincial departments and representatives of national departments was established. Under the auspices of the BLMC, civilengineers from the KZN Department of Transport (KZN DoT) conducted a high-level technical analysis of possible infrastructural interventions to limit unauthorized movement of vehicles across the border.
The KZN Provincial government adopted the Border Integrity Improvement Plan (BIIP), which consists of short, medium, and long-term measures to secure the border.
Key elements of the plan were set out such as the deployment of crime prevention volunteers to improve detection of illegal activity; improvement of police and SANDF deployment in the area;and reducing the ability of criminals to move hijacked/stolen vehicles freely across the border by the strategic placement of trenches, railway sleepers and jerseybarriers.
As it gave an undertaking to the community of Ndumo, to address the insecurities at the border, the KZN Provincial government made R50 million available as seed funding to implement the KZN Border Integrity Plan. This allocation was made with the understanding that the responsible national department/agency/entity (in this case the DPWI and its PMTE) would fully reimburse the province.
To prevent an audit opinion that showed fruitless and wasteful expenditure and to give effect to this transaction, the KZN DoT required a Memorandum of Agreement(MoA) between the Province (KZN DoT) and the DPWI. The DPWI had to explain the need for the expenditure, how it would be collected, and how its expenditure would give effect to the KZN Border Integrity Plan.
The situation worsened in recent years (June 2019) with a shooting incident being reported between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and Mozambican Border Police that led to the death of two members of the Mozambican Border Police. The South African and Mozambican counterparts investigated the matter jointly. The outcome was amicable and joint operations between the South African Police Service (SAPS), SANDF and authorities from Mozambique would continue the fight against illicit dealings over the border.
It remains crucial for DPWI as custodian of government immovable assets to ensure that border infrastructure is maintained and protected.
- MANDATES AND FUNCTIONS
- The Mandate of the DPWI - the relationship with the PMTE
The DPWI is mandated to be the custodian and portfolio manager of national government’s immovable assets.
Following the operationalisation of the Property Management Trading Entity (PMTE), the department’s role shifted to policy formulation, coordination, regulation and oversight relating to the provision of accommodation and expert built environment services to client departments at the national government level. The PMTE took over the actual planning, acquiring, managing and disposing of immovable assets in the department’s custody.
The DPWI is further mandated to coordinate, ensure national regulation, and provide strategic leadership in employment creation initiatives for indigent households through the expanded public works programme (EPWP) that are implemented by several national, provincial, and municipal government departments. Public works is constitutionally designated as a concurrent function exercised by both the national and provincial spheres of Government.
Additional to this, the infrastructure role was added at the start of the sixth administration in 2019, as guided by the Infrastructure Development Act of 2014, so that currently, the role of the DPWI also included the coordination of infrastructure projects atthe three levels of government.
- The Mandate of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure
The committee conducts oversight over the Minister of Public Works as executive authority that provides policy leadership over the programmatic deliverables of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and its entities. Much of the committee’s oversight work focuses on how the Director-General leads the departmental administration to interpret the policy, turn it into programmed plans using the allocated budget to implement the policies as per the mandate of the DPWI. The Constitution (Schedule 4, Part A), and the Government Immovable Management Act (GIAMA, Act 19 of 2007), describes the mandate of the DPWI.
- SITE VISIT AND BRIEFINGS
- Pre-site visit briefing (09 October 2020)
Officials from the DPWI and the KZN DoT briefed the committee on the technical aspects and details of Phase 1 of the Jersey Barrier Wall project(8 km) that was being constructed between the borders of RSA and RM. The overarching issues noted during the briefing included:
- The KZN DoT, as nominated by the former KZN Premier, executed the project even though the scope of the project is the legal mandate of the national DPWI. The DPWI is the custodian of border infrastructure outlay and the maintenance thereof.
- There was no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval granted prior to the execution of the project.
- The findings indicated that what was constructed versus what was presented did not correspond.
- Matters that emerged during the briefing highlighted the following:
- According to the DPWI, the 8 km Jersey Barrier Wall project falls within a larger project to construct and maintain the border of RSA-RM stretching for 54 km. The second phase of the project was the balance of 540 km of the RSA-Swaziland Border.
- These two projects had to be prioritised because of the reported illegal activities taking place in the areas around the borderline.
- The KZN DoT executed the 8km Jersey Barrier Wall project without any EIA approval.
- The DPWI completed 90% of its site clearance project, which they hope to fully complete by 2021. Failure to receive funding for the projects to commence after two years (by 2023) might render this a futile exercise that could lead to wasteful and fruitless expenditure.
- The DPWI proposed solutions to the current border fencing challenge to utilise the maximum security fencing system that wasused in projects to maintain security infrastructure at prisons, at an estimated cost of R615 million for the entire 554km borderline. The argument was that the fencing system would be most effective if there were sensors and proper patrol roads to maximise security.
- With regard to the work done by KZN DoT (25km), the DPWI identified and confirmed funding on 20 December 2019 subject to the conclusion of the MoA and a comprehensive project report by KZN Department to be assessed by the DPWI Construction Project Management branch to validate the work done.
- To date, the MoA has not yet been concluded and no reimbursement could therefore be paid to the KZN DoT.The DPWI and KZN Department have undertaken to prioritise the finalisation of the MoA to enable the transaction.
- The DPWI is responsible for the management and maintenance of infrastructure at the Kosi Bay port of entry. According to the DPWI, the repair, maintenance and servicing project that iscurrently underway (at 98% completion)was done on behalf of the Border Management Agency. The project commenced in October 2017 and is estimated to be completed in October 2020 (36 months) at a cost of R 5,493,192.60.
- The erection of an 8km Jersey Barrier Wall project commenced in May 2019 and scheduled for completion in May 2020 (12 months) at a cost of R85 796 470.06.Due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the completion date was revised to November 2020. According to the KZN DoT, the total expenditure to date is R 48 764 303.37, panels casted are 4305 out of 6372; 156 panels were placed on the borderline, and the excavation work of 3.5km out of 8km was completed.
- Each modified Jersey Barrier structure is 2,2m high with 700mm below ground and 1,5m protruding from the surface and the width is 1,5 m for stability purposes.
- 108 employment opportunities were created for EPWP beneficiaries at the concrete panel casting yard and barrier wall construction site. These included women, youth and people with disabilities.
- 35% of the contractual amount was directed at socio-economic benefits and was set aside for local sub-contractors, local suppliers, support to local NPOs in a fight against crime and provision of career guidance to local scholars.
- Excavation has been done on 3,5 km of the borderline so that criminal activities such as trans-country movement of stolen vehicles may be prevented while the project was being completed.
- The site visit (10 October 2020)
The committee first visited the manufacturing site, where Jersey Barrier wall structures were being manufactured. Thereafter the committee was driven in four-wheel drive vehicles that could withstand the rough and uneven terrain toinspect the Jersey Barrier Wall installation site along the border wall. The committee inspectedand deliberated issues with participants at both the:
- Jersey Barrier panel casting yard in Manguzi, Umhlabuyalingana Local Municipality.
- Jersey Barrier Wall construction site at the RSA-Mozambique borderline.
- Jersey Barrier panel castingyard
The committee visited the panel-casting yard situated in Manguzi. Upon arrival, there was an on-site screening done in line with COVID-19 safety regulations. The resident civil engineer led the delegation through the site, explaining the background of the project and how the casting was done.
- The site is situated in a 10km radius from the ocean therefore the material used to cast the panels is elevated from the floor to avoid damping
- The integrity of the steel used in the casting of the Jersey Barrier structures was selected to avoid thinning and withstand corrosion.
- It was explained that six panels placed together formed a module that weremoved by cranes onto trucks and moved to local storage areas prior to installation at the 8km borderline.
- Jersey Barrier Wall construction site
The committee travelled to the Jersey Barrier wall construction site at the RSA-Mozambique borderline. Construction was taking place next to Gate 6 of the borderline with RSA and RM (note the more detailed description under findings).
A representative of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) working at the borderline raised the following:
- Communities living along the borderline struggled to access a variety of resources so it was difficult to maintain law and order in the area, which resulted in increased illegal activities.
- Due to the construction work that was happening close to Gate 6, the level of criminal activities shifted to Gate 8 where itincreased substantially.
- The Kosi Bay border post was not yet operational because of lockdown regulations so illegal movement into South Africa through Gate 6, 7 and 8 were increasing by day.
The resident civilengineer outlined the process of laying the modules to construct the border wall.
- The project consisted of three phases. Phase 1 stretched for 8km starting from Gate 6 moving in the western direction towards Tembe Elephant Park. Phase 2 stretched for 8km from the boundary of iSimangaliso Wetland Park moving in the eastern direction towards gate 6. Phase 3 stretched for 9km long from the western boundary of Tembe Elephant Park towards Pongola River.
- Of the 40 local young people that were targeted for training and employment when construction began, 33 were employed.Seven got better employment opportunities after obtaining NQF (National Qualifications Framework) Level 4, National Certificate, Supervision of Construction Processes; and NQF Level 2, National Certificate, Construction, Roadworks.
- The project commenced without an EIA authorisation, which meant that the Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) might either issue a fine or stop the project and submit a litigation letter to the Acting Director-General of the DPWI.
- The Jersey Barriers local storage areas were along the roadside and were neither secured nor covered.
- There was a gap in between each of the six Jersey Barrier panels that formed a module.According to the resident civil engineer, these were meant for free movement of animals and to prevent water flow that could erode the soil along the barrier wall in the event of rain as well as cater for visibility of patrol personnel.
- It remained unclear where the actual borderline was situated. The current fencing was an agricultural fence that had been there for many years and was initially set up to stop animals from crossing and the spreading of foot and mouth disease. This meant that the borderline fence was unfit for security. The DPWI Director, Town Planning indicated that the Land Surveyors made use of trigonometry beacons while doing cadastral surveying and that this assisted to clearly indicate the borderline location during the site clearance phase.
- According to theKZN provincial Member of the Executive Council (MEC)responsible for Transport, the government of RM used some of the stolen vehicles from the country. There was nothing that South African authorities could do to recover the vehicles once they crossed the border.
- According to the report, R48 million had already been utilised on the project and that was supposed to have been spent on a 3kmborder wall placement; this was contrary to what the committee found on-site.The committee found 156 panels placed, which equated to 26 modules. Each module was 6, 4 metres long, which meant that the length of the placed panels at the time of the visit was 166, 4 metres (0.166 km).
- The DPWI was working on a fencing project proposal at the borderline because the wall was focused specifically on the prevention of vehicle movement. There would be a 2-metre gap between the wall and fencing.
- There was a plan to construct a patrol road next to the installed Jersey Barrier Wall structures. The plan falls within the broader site clearance approval obtained by the DPWI.
Given the findings that emerged from the deliberations, the committee recommends that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure:
- Immediately avails to the KZN DoT, the basic assessment report (T&PMD2264/2675R001F) dated 19 March 2018 for the DPWI to facilitate authorisation so that the project can be completed in compliance with the legal and regulatory framework that protects the environment.
- Instructs that the Acting DG, CFO, Head of the PMTE, Head of Construction Management, and all technical professionals of the DPWI that were involved, provide a comprehensive report on all irregularities involved in phase 1 of the RSA-RM border maintenance project with a view to institute further investigations. The report should be submitted to the Committee within two weeks after the adoption of this report by the House.
- Instructs the DPWI technical professional built environment teams to properly manage the site clearance process of the entire South African borderline and ensure compliance with supply chain management processes.
- Instructs the DPWI and PMTE teams to expedite the implementation of the planned projects to secure the country’s borderline.
- Facilitates the involvement of Agrément SAin the certification of alternative construction material, which may reduce the cost of future border fencing construction and may enhance efficiency in the execution of theseprojects.
The oversight visit to the Jersey Barrier Wall left the Committee with more probing questions concerning the project. The key question that lingered was how the KZN provincial government allocated a national DPWI mandated project to the KZN DoT without a MoA in place.
As part of its oversight responsibilities, Parliament has to hold the executive authority accountable. Therefore, Parliament should use its constitutional powers to continue to monitor that the Ministeraccelerates the process of securing the country’s borders through infrastructure and maintenance and in the process, forge collaborations with relevant departments. The committee commits to closely monitor the implementation of the borderline projects as outlined in the site clearance documents.
Report to be considered.
 SANDF Spokesperson, Brigadier-General Mgobozi at https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/breaking-high-level-sandf-team-off-to-mozambique-to-probe-shooting-that-left-2-dead-20190626.
Trigonometry beacon is a fixed surveying station, used in geodetic surveying and other surveying projects in its vicinity. These have reportedly been used at theRSA-RM borderline since 1906.
Cadastral surveying is the sub-field of cadastre and surveying that specialises in the establishment and re-establishment of real property boundaries. It is an important component of the legal creation of properties
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