A South African minister on Thursday announced the government’s plan to build a fence along its border with Zimbabwe to prevent illegal immigrants from entering and spreading the coronavirus, reported Reuters.
“Another key intervention by Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is the installation of a fence at Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe,” Public Works Minister, Patricia De Lille said.
She said the measures undertaken are in line with the plans announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to secure borders and ports with immediate effect.
“The President stated that 35 of the 53 land entry points will be closed,” Lille said. “This measure will, however, not be effective if the fences at the border are not secure, which in many places, they are not.”
Notably, South Africa currently has the most infections in sub-Saharan Africa. On Thursday, President Ramaphosa said that 150 people tested positive for the COVID-19 virus to date. He expressed concern that the numbers of cases could drastically rise if South Africans do not implement measures outlined by the government, including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.
De Lille said the fences will ensure that no undocumented person or those infected with the deadly virus will enter into South Africa or neighboring Zimbabwe.
She said the emergency procurement procedures have been invoked for the construction of the 1.8 meters high (6-foot) fence that will be built 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) on either side of the Beitbridge Land Port of Entry. The department will also repair damaged and collapsed fences.
De Lille said construction of the fence would take one month and will cost approximately 37.2 million rand ($2.1 million). Construction is due to begin this week.
The minister said the authorities are in contact with provincial public works departments to determine whether they had properties available for possible quarantine sites.