Public workers, chain gangs to help build 175 km fence along Serbia border

July 30, 2015


The cost to Hungarian taxpayers of erecting a 175-kilometer-long, 3-meter-high border fence along the Serbian border increased by HUF 2 billion (USD 7 million) following the decision to complete the fence by the end of August rather than the end of October as originally planned, reports Hungarian news site Népszabadság.

According to the news site, the shortened deadline will increase the government’s costs.

On Wednesday, the government appropriated an additional HUF 22.2 billion (USD 79 million) of budgetary funds to “deal with the migration problem”.  This is in addition to the HUF 6.5 billion (USD 23 million) already allotted for the construction of the border fence.

Fence-building experts say the Prime Minister’s ambitious plan to complete construction by the end of August is totally unrealistic. The two state organs responsible for the construction, the Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry, are much more optimistic.

“The government decided the fence will stand, so it will stand,” a source at the Interior Ministry told Népszabadság before government spokesman Zoltán Kovács announced that the government would allocate additional public funds to the controversial project.

In order to meet the overly optimistic deadline, the Interior Ministry obtained the cooperation of every chain-link fence building company within close proximity to the border, Népszabadság reports.

The government agreed with the owners of the companies that all non-specialist work needed to make a chain-link fence would be supplied by convicted criminals serving time in the Hungarian prison system. Materials for the fence will be acquired by the government through the companies.

The government plans on having six pile-drivers operating around the clock in three rotating shifts, pausing only long enough to perform whatever routine maintenance the machines require.

Once the support poles are buried, 900 soldiers from the army corps of engineers will attach the chain-link fencing with the help of 100-250 public works employees.

Népszabadság reports there being no plans to install additional “electronic means of defense” in the form of motion detectors and thermal cameras beyond those already in place prior to the construction of the fence.

Experts say the government may start using heartbeat sensors along the border because human traffickers are evading detection by thermal cameras by wrapping themselves in thermal blankets made out of Mylar foil, more commonly known as “space blankets”.

Népszabadság reports HUF 2 billion of the additional HUF 22 billion will be used to cover the costs of moving forward the deadline for completion to the end of August. HUF 8.88 billion will be used by the Interior Ministry to hire 191 law enforcement officers, 1,358 armed guards, and 125 regular employees.

In addition to compensating land owners on whose property the fence is being built, the ministry is contemplating purchasing specialized fingerprinting machines, reports the left-wing daily.

HUF 28 million (USD 100,000) will be spent to help cover costs at the Nagyfa temporary camp, HUF 87.5 million (USD 312,500) to replenish reserves for emergency services, HUF 50 million (USD 178,600) to host an international conference on how to deal with the wave of migrants attempting to enter the EU from the Balkans, HUF 186 million (USD 643,000) on land surveying-related expenses, plus HUF 86 million (USD 307,000) by the Ministry of Human Resources to expand its child protection operations.

The Hungarian military has been appropriated HUF 3 billion (USD 10.7 million) to cover expenses related to the construction of the border fence.

The Immigration and Citizenship Office has been appropriated HUF 10 billion (USD 36 million) with which to acquire containers, buy property, and develop property.