Border wall work yet to be­gin as start date passes

Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD -

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has yet to award con­tracts to build pro­to­types of a US-Mex­ico border wall, even though con­struc­tion was orig­i­nally sched­uled to be­gin this week in San Diego, pub­lic records show.

While money for a full wall along the 3000-kilo­me­tre border has not been ap­proved, Congress did al­lo­cate US$20 mil­lion for pro­to­types that at­tracted hundreds of bid­ders from across the coun­try.

Home­land Se­cu­rity had planned to be­gin con­struc­tion on four to eight 10-me­tre-tall pro­to­types on Fri­day near Otay Mesa. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion said no con­tracts had been awarded.

Border Pro­tec­tion spokesman Rick Pauza con­firmed yes­ter­day that bids were still be­ing re­viewed but that pro­to­type de­signs ‘‘will be se­lected for con­struc­tion in sum­mer 2017’’.

The agency de­clined to say what had caused the de­lay, when bids would be awarded, if San Diego was still the start­ing lo­ca­tion, or if the names of con­tract win­ners would be re­leased.

The agency also would not say if it had re­viewed op­tions for a wall us­ing so­lar pan­els, an idea re­cently pro­moted by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

At least one person who knows about so­lar has re­searched Trump’s idea al­ready and says tax­pay­ers would never be re­paid the cost of such a wall.

Gordon John­son, an an­a­lyst at Ax­iom Cap­i­tal Management, wrote in a re­search note that a 12m wall with 13.3 mil­lion so­lar pan­els could gen­er­ate US$221 mil­lion a year. With­out ad­just­ing for in­fla­tion, the cost could be paid back in 125 years us­ing the US$20 billion cost es­ti­mate from Home­land Se­cu­rity. How­ever, when ad­justed for in­fla­tion and the time value of money, tax­pay­ers would never be able to re­coup the cost, be­cause af­ter year 58, profit would de­crease by at least US$1m a year.

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