MIAMI, FL – 20 Feb, 2017 – Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable says that wall costs are significantly understated in Donald Trump / Steve Bannon proposals, gives cost break-down and puts the first estimate at 48.7 billion USD.
It was not the first time that Volkmar Guido Hable and Donald Trump team / Steve Bannon advisors were at odds about the costs of the proposed “great wall” on the USA – Mexican border. Two weeks ago a panel meeting took place at Ohio State University, where Volkmar Guido Hable and representatives of the Donald Trump team, advisors to Steve Bannon, and engineering consulting firms met to exchange ideas on the feasibility to such an undertaking, they clashed fiercely on the cost estimates.
This time in a Mar-a-Lago meeting and press conference they discussed again with a group of engineers and Volkmar Guido Hable the cost issues around the proposed wall.
Stated Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable: “I have still no clue what exactly Donald’s scientific basis is for assuming a total cost of only 8 billion USD for the proposed wall on the Mexican border. The math doesn’t add up.”
He said that “There are many more expense items in a construction projects than just the material costs.”
Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable went on to explain the details of the wall costs:
• Material costs per meter of a 30 feet concrete wall: 2500 USD
• Backfill, drainage and a good base: 2000 USD per meter
• Support structures for the stability of the wall: 1400 USD per meter
• Labor costs per meter of wall: 2900 USD
• Engineering and planning costs per meter of wall: 450 USD
• Power supply, electric services, Electronic surveillance equipment: 2500 USD per meter
The total length of the continental border is 3,201 kilometres (1,989 mi). Assuming this will be the total length of the proposed wall the estimated costs just for the expenses directly related to construction will amount to more than 37.62 billion USD.
In addition there are other cost items like for example:
• Mobilization costs for construction sites: 4.5 billion USD
• Water supply for construction and workers: 4 billion USD
• Legal Costs, compensation payments to landowners: 2 billion USD
• Just the necessary water supply for construction and for the workers could top 4 billion USD in costs.
Volkmar Guido Hable: “We safely can assume that workers and engineers in the desert like conditions of the remote constructions sites won’t settle for a bottle of coke per day.”
Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable further stated: “Just a simple math on generally known typical construction costs yield a total expense of at least 48.7 billion US Dollars. A far cry from the proposed 8 billion. Of course you can start to discuss the amounts of these individual expense items. But the fact of the matter is that it will not change the magnitude or the order of the various expenses based on generally well known standard construction and engineering costs.”
He continued: “We are talking about many dozens of billion US-Dollars and not just 8.”
Donald Trump has issued an executive order calling for a 3,201 kilometres long wall on the US-Mexican border. The order allows for six months to survey all 3,201 kilometres before the groundbreaking, which in the opinion of Volkmar Guido Hable is totally unrealistic.
Smithsonian magazine consulted Volkmar Hable and a panel of experts on the logistics of such a wall and came away with the impression that Donald Trump has no idea what this involves, and will end up with an expensive, useless disaster.
In his key note Volkmar Hable noted that the terrain that Donald Trump wants to cover with his wall includes every imaginable geological difficulty ranging from deep canyons, mountains, unstable underground and bedrock, hydrophilic clay soil (which swells and moves, shattering foundations), sand, and regions where the bedrock is thousands of feet down.
“You’re going to encounter hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of soils along [such a lengthy] linear pathway,” says Dr. Volkmar Hable. He further stated that in fact, there are over 1,300 kinds of soil in Texas alone. And many of those soils aren’t going to be the right type to build on top of. At that point, would-be wall-builders have two options: Spend more time and money excavating the existing soils and replacing them with the necessary foundation—or avoid the region altogether. Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable estimates the costs of the necessary ground and base preparation at around 2000 USD per meter.
He stated: “This is not rocket science. Anyone can do the math. Pull the numbers of standard construction project costs completed in the US. Even resorting to slave labor – with which the Chinese Great Wall was built – will not bring the cost down to 8 billion.”
Dr. Volkmar Hable stated further that megastructures like the proposed 3,201 kilometre Great Wall on the US-Mexican border need constant maintenance and surveillance, and would be a major fixed cost factor with no tangible return on investment.
He said the yearly maintenance costs will require a staff that mounts to tens of thousands of workers and engineers and will cost billions.
These are just the first-order difficulties with the wall. China’s Great Wall took 2,000 years to build and didn’t keep the invaders out. And there is certainly doubt if such a wall would in fact be the ultimate protection in keeping illegal immigrants out.
Stated Dr. Volkmar Hable “Walls can be climbed over, and crossed under through tunnels or simply bypassed in regions where due to the terrain a wall simply would not be feasible at all.”
Upkeep of such a lengthy structure is challenging. And even if such a wall can be erected, the size of budget necessary to keep it standing remains unclear.
Further risks like earthquakes and floods would contribute to cost increases. Rivers run along a sizeable portion of the U.S.-Mexico border, which can create a very real danger of flooding and additional cost factors.
Dr. Volkmar Hable also reminded the audience of just one of many legal issues: A 1970 treaty necessitates that the current border fence be set back from the Rio Grande river, which delineates the Texas-Mexico border. Because of this, the current fence crosscuts Texas landowner’s property and has gaps to allow landowners to pass.
Said Dr. Volkmar Hable. “I have a hard time to imagine that such a megastructure could be built for 8 billion dollars. The right figure proposed by Donald Trump lacks a zero, we are talking of a cost closer to 80 billion than to 8 billion dollars.”
Or let me put it in other words he said: “it will be a lot cheaper and less difficult to set up a permanent human outpost on Mars than building this wall.”
Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable also disputed in a fierce exchange of words with Steve-Bannon advisors the estimated benefits of 64 billion USD per year.
Dr. Volkmar Guido Hable: “There is simply no scientific basis whatsoever for this figure. It is a made up number with no homework done, just any number that is thrown at the American public in order to cause confusion.”
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