Friday, November 18, 2011
Bosasa Prison Fencing Innovation
It does not matter on which side of the fence you get off as long as you do get off and make good decisions about life. Perhaps that was the unwritten philosophy of the Watson family when the Bosasa Group of Companies was not yet a gleam on the horizon but it unerringly chose the moral side of the fence and life. The Watson family was known for challenging existing prejudiced beliefs, of saying' what if' and 'why not'.
When the Bosasa Group was born it was clear that the right l choices would always be made even in the face of adversity. Bosasa was and remains no ordinary Company. It has centred its 'product' choice against a balanced score card always asking the question – will it or, can it change lives and grow this beloved country of ours? If the answer was no, irrespective of the product provocation, new avenues were sought that opened doors, grew people, provided opportunities and grew an economy of scale.
So when is a fence a fence?
Ask a Chinese citizen about the Great Wall of China and they will be adamant that it was built, in excess of 6000 kilometres, to keep the enemy out. Ask East Berliners about their Iron Curtain and they will tell you to was to keep them all in, away from contaminated Western thinking. Good fences are said to make good neighbours provided there is an open gate that makes good friends. Ask a psychologist about her understanding of fences or boundaries and she will answer without them we have poor values. A physician will tell you that the human skin or integument is a boundary that preserves the inner body and without it we would surely die. The skin is the largest organ in the body. It is continuous but in actual fact as it travels the human body it adjusts its structure to regulate temperature, assist with touch sensation, protect you from the sun and dehydration or invasion of bacteria. It has two distinct layers to do this. Different parts of the body required the skin to fulfil different functions. The soft delicate 'skin' inside the mouth would never work on your face for instance which carries the full brunt of UV light, It's about survival and these boundaries or fences do not stop working because there is a national holiday. Our Creator had already done the homework and provided perfection. So why reinvent the wheel? The model for Correctional Centres was born.
Enter fencing in the industrial world and picture the scene of a correctional centre. Can you imagine this without a boundary fence or two (that worked) knowing that offenders are kept 'inside' until rehabilitation is complete. So what is the perfect fence or skin of a correctional centre?
The Department of Correctional Services for instance gave us a mandate to develop the perfect fence for all Centres. The mandate on the surface was a simple one: supply install and commission outer and inner perimeter fencing, CCTV and lighting. They had two objectives: keep the right people in and the wrong people out and don't install something so grotesque that even human rights courts will get involved. Sounds like a piece of cake until you visit the sites and reality sets in. No two sites were alike. The fences then could not be standardised to a one size fits all. It had to adapt to each unique environment. The project teams got work – sixteen in all with 900 people each bringing different specialisations to the table. The first logistical problem was the commencement of the contract in festive season. This meant business as usual and no leisure days in the sun. Stock had to be placed on site in bonded facilities within four months. Equipment needed to be on site. No drawings existed for many of these dated sites.
A fencing blue print
Today, the project team knows these sites intimately. No other private company knows and understands the unique demands and design of each site. Building plans which never existed before evolved into scientific architectural and engineering design. The project team developed a benchmark – an adaptable design which lays claim to being the best of its kind on the planet earth and fit for purpose. Adaptable it had to be with each site bringing its own challenges. The differences in site needs were accommodated. New age solutions were required for old aged establishments. Now read on about the processes, products, people and project teams that changed a facet of South African Correctional Services history.
"No other private company knows and understands the unique demands and design of each site."
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