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The Calais Wall: Vinci and the other profiteers making a killing from building an anti-migrant barrier

Friday 7 October 2016

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]


Construction work on the wall by “Eurovia VINCI”, using equipment from LIEBHERR.

by Calais Research Network

Work has now started on the “great wall of Calais”, the 13 foot high £2 million anti-migrant security wall ordered by the UK and French governments. The wall will block off the “jungle”, a government created slum where approximately 10,000 people are living (some trying to cross to the UK, others waiting for a welcome in France), from the motorway near the Channel’s busiest port. The money for the wall is provided by the UK government, while the construction is overseen by the French authorities.

The wall is being built by Vinci, France’s massive construction and outsourcing multi-national, responsible for numerous other controversial projects (some examples below). The specific subsidiary involved is Eurovia Vinci, which specialises in roads and other transport infrastructure, as well as quarrying, asphalt production, and other business lines whose main common point is ecological devastation.

Although ‘Vinci’ appeared prominently on the t-Shirts and trucks of the workers carrying out construction, according to the publication L’Obs, “the work [of creating the wall] was entrusted to the construction Company ‘Operating Company of Detroit Ports’”(SPD). The SPD is a larger structure that was specifically created to finance the Calais Port 2015 project, a planned €900 million expansion of the current Calais port, following the logic that freedom of movement should be facilitated as much as possible for the shipping of goods, while more and more barriers are built up for people. Vinci was only one of the companies awarded this contract. Soletanche Bachy, listed in this contract for the port, is a subsidiary of Vinci (curiously, they are not listed on the port’s website). Competitors Bouygues, Spie Batignolles and Jan de Nul won more substantial parts.

Another Vinci subsidiary, Sogea, was put in charge of the demolition of the “South zone” of the jungle in February and construction of the container camp. It is not known yet whether Vinci / Sogea will also be responsible for demolishing the rest of the jungle in the next wave of evictions, widely expected to begin within weeks (October 17).

In any case, Vinci tears down homes, and Vinci puts up wall as the UK and French governments seek to turn Calais into a “no mans land” for migrants.

In France, Vinci is behind the Notre Dame de Landes airport scheme, a public/private partnership “mega project” being resisted by the local ZAD (Zone A Defendre) movement. There ZAD occupation is also at risk of evictions and against Vinci’s role in Calais.

In Russia, Vinci has been involved in the tollroad project that threatens miles of the historic Khimki forest, and has been the subject of bribery and corruption allegations.

In the UK, Vinci was one of the major building contractors revealed to be involved in blacklisting trade union workers.

Back in Calais, the wall is said to be completed within 3 months, by the end of 2016. The builders are apparently under instruction to work fast, as a dispute simmers between the Prefecture (local representative of the French central government, in charge of the scheme) and the Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, who argues that the wall is an unnecessary waste of money with the jungle set to be cleared. As of today she has put an official “stop” on the the works (link in French).

Eurovia-Vinci is not the only company profiting from the latest wave of new European dividing walls. In Calais alone, last year additional fencing was created around the Eurotunnel site and the motorway. One of the beneficiaries was Jacksons Fencing. In 2014, Zaun Ltd. was behind the NATO fence brought to Calais after the summit.

The construction project makes use of trucks and machines supplied by a number of companies including the following:

Jean Lefebvre: French public works company

Kiloutou: French society that rents materials and building machines

Liebherr: Swiss multinational equipment manufacturer

Manitou: French and international bulldozer and other equipment company

Salti: French building equipment company

Schwing-Stetter: German concrete pumping equipment multinational