The US government has awarded a number of contracts to build prototypes of the new border wall with Mexico.
The four successful bidders will each build a 30ft section of wall for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a cost of between $200,000-$500,000 apiece. The prototypes will allow the agency to evaluate the wall design and see how they might complement existing barriers.
The contract is part of president Donald Trump’s plan to build a “big, beautiful wall” along the entire border between the US and Mexico, one of his main election pledges. Around 650 miles of the 1,989-mile border is already walled.
Trump signed an executive order to build the wall as one of his first acts after his inauguration, and a tender put out by CBP attracted hundreds of expressions of interest from companies.
The contracts to build prototypes have been awarded to Caddell Construction, Fisher Sand & Gravel/DBA Fisher Industries, Texas Sterling Construction and W. G. Yates & Sons Construction. All of the companies are US based.
As with the final wall, these prototypes are required to be insurmountable without climbing equipment, and need to be able to withstand any attempts to breach it with handtools for at least 30mins.
Trump, who during his campaign said Mexico would pay for the wall, now wants the federal government to front the cost and has pledged to make Mexico reimburse the US. “We must have the wall. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other,” he tweeted last week.
Mexican leaders have already said they will not pay for the wall.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, estimates the wall will cost $21bn. However, some independent estimates put this figure higher.
Next week another set of contracts to build prototype walls out of materials other than concrete will be announced. CBP had issued a separate tender for a non-concrete wall.
CBP expects the prototypes to be completed this autumn.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.