Saturday, April 01, 2017

Chinese Construction Giant Reported To Have Strong Bid For Trump Border Wall

The China's official Xinhua News Agency reports that Qin Shi Huang Construction Company of China, whose CEO's  family can be traced back to the emperor who built the original parts of the Great Wall of China, has submitted a serious bid for a one hundred kilometer stretch of Trump's proposed Mexican wall.  The plans are said to meet all the threshold requirements (see below*) as well as the objective requirements of the General Services Administration's request for proposal RFP.

Meeting Threshold Requirements
For example, requirements 3 and 4 of the threshold requirements (again, see below*) call for a wall that is impossible to climb and has "anti-climb topping features." QSHCC's proposal includes provisions for detection of contact starting at eight feet above the ground level.  "Such contact triggers the release of hot oil from the top of the wall in the section where contact was detected."

Financial Issues
In addition the QSHCC proposal has a number of additional features addressing other issues not required by the RFP, but which have been raised as challenges to construction.  There are arrangements, for example,  to develop financing from Mexican sources through the Sinaloa Banking Cartel who have worked closely with Mexican and US officials in the past.  This could help meet Trump's pledge that Mexico would pay for the wall.

Other Border and Wildlife Issues
Two of the problems that have been raised concerning the wall are:
1.  How to build the wall on US soil without encroaching Mexican territory, yet not giving up US land south of the wall to Mexico, particularly in the large portion of the border that runs through the middle of the Rio Grande.
2.  Concern for the wildlife that lives along the border, including endangered species.  

The QSHCC proposal calls for portions of the wall to be sited up to a mile north of the Rio Grande.  There will be razor wire fences along the river and the land in between will become an international wildlife refuge that will be populated with pumas, jaguars, wolves, tarantulas and other poisonous spiders, wild pigs, various kinds of poisonous snakes as well as a variety of particularly thorny cacti.  There is research included to determine whether alligators can be introduced to portions of the Rio Grande.  Not only will this give these animals habitat in which to grow their populations, but it is felt their presence will deter illegal immigrants.

Financing Maintenance Costs
Financing for maintenance of the wall includes a proposal  for  making parts of the wall into exotic tourist hotels and casinos. While these will be low rise hotels to maximize the wall's intent of blocking the border, there will be some observation towers and possibly restaurants on top.  In addition, all rooms will have south facing  bullet-proof one-way glass allowing visitors to look towards Mexico and the wilderness area.  The Chinese have not named an American partner for the hotels, however, drawings and descriptions of the US wall side showing a hotel would follow the design criteria described in the Xiaodong Ji, Dan Liu, Jiaru Qian article, "Improved design of special boundary elements for T-shaped reinforced concrete walls"  in Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Vibration Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 83–95.

In those parts located in or near populated areas, Amazon has partnered with QSHCC, with a proposal to make some of the wall suitable for warehouse space, with Amazon lockers on the south side where  Mexicans could pick up American goods they had purchased on line.  This too would help finance maintenance of the wall and offer employment to US border residents.

US Jobs
The plan also includes as partners, Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa as well as the Departments of Labor in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  Unemployed coal miners as well as workers from other industries will be hired, have three weeks of initial training, then be transported to Forest City to pick up, eventually, a total of 10,000 newly designed and built Winnebagos (bringing employment for 300)  that will be used as housing for the workers.  Additional training will be conducted at the construction sites.

You can read  the details of the proposal here.

Meanwhile, the construction industry in the United States is concerned about a concrete shortage due to the wall, which will sharply raise the cost of aggregates and construction.

The Mexican sports magazine, Tritón, ran an article which noted that the specifications for the wall say "designs with heights of at least 18 feet may be acceptable," In contrast, the article pointed out that world record for pole vaulting is 6.16 meters or just over 20 feet.  With springier than officially allowed poles, athletes should be able to 25, possibly even 30 feet.  Mexican sporting good stores report a shortage of vaulting poles.

Additional Information from General Services Administration Request for Proposal
*Threshold Requirements [see page 62 of the link]
1) The wall design shall be reinforced concrete.
2) The wall design shall be physically imposing in height. The Government’s nominal concept is for
a 30-foot high wall. Offerors should consider this height, but designs with heights of at least 18feet may be acceptable. Designs with heights of less than 18 feet are not acceptable.
3) It shall not be possible for a human to climb to the top of the wall or access the top of the wall from either side unassisted (e.g. via the use of a ladder, etc.)
4) The wall design shall include anti-climb topping features that prevent scaling using common and more sophisticated climbing aids (e.g. grappling hooks, handholds, etc.)
5) The wall shall prevent digging or tunneling below it for a minimum of 6 feet below the lowest adjacent grade.
6) The wall shall prevent/deter for a minimum of 1 hour the creation a physical breach of the wall(e.g., punching through the wall) larger than 12-inches in diameter or square using sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operated cutting tools, Oxy/acetylene torch or other similar hand-held tools.
7) The north side of wall (i.e. U.S. facing side) shall be aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc., to be consistent with general surrounding environment. The
manufacturing/construction process should facilitate changes in color and texture pursuant to site specific requirements.
8) The wall design shall be able to accommodate surface drainage.
9) The wall design shall be able to accommodate Border Patrol approved design standards for pedestrian and automated mechanized vehicle sliding gates (25 feet and 50 feet).
10) The wall design shall be constructible to slopes up to 45 percent.
11) The wall fittings and fixtures shall be secured on the north side of the wall to shield from external attack.
12) The wall design should be cost effective to construct, maintain and repair.
Objective Requirements
1) It is operationally advantageous that the design of first 12 feet of wall height (as measured from the highest adjacent grade) be adaptable to prevent/deter for a period of time greater than 1 hour 30 minutes up to 4+ hours the creation of a physical breach of the wall (e.g., punching through the wall) larger than 12-inches in diameter or square using sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operated cutting tools, Oxy/acetylene torch or other similar hand-held tools.

For more information on the Chinese proposal click here.

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