Wanganui residents can be confident that the new retaining wall along the Anzac motorway is secure, after all it's spent time in prison.
Prisoners working in Wanganui Prison's pre-cast yard have recently completed the labour intensive job of constructing a new retaining wall built to protect the Anzac Parade motorway from the erosive Whanganui river.
The project began in early 2007 when Allied Concrete approached the prison to construct approximately 1000 concrete retaining blocks.
Steve O'Hara, manager of Allied Concrete says that the prisoner-made retaining wall will help protect the public.
"The condition of the river bank has been deteriorating rapidly over the past few years to the point where it could compromise the safety of motorists travelling along the highway. Thanks to the hard work that has gone into each one of these blocks, the road is now safe and protected."
The intricate design of the barrier required the prisoners to skilfully craft each two-ton block to scale, so each would fit securely into the next to form a solid stack of blocks. Each one of these cylinder shaped blocks was constructed to stand 1.2 metres high to ensure the strength and resistance of the barricade would be sufficient.
The Wanganui Prison pre-cast yard provides employment and training to 36 prisoners who are all learning construction skills which will help them to find meaningful employment upon release.
These prisoners learn valuable skills such as using concrete moulds, health and safety training, and crane and forklift operation, which all contributes to New Zealand Qualifications Authority recognised unit standards, Wanganui Prison Pre-cast Manager John Hackshaw says.
"There's something satisfying about seeing these men who are in prison for compromising public safety in some way, doing a job that will ultimately make the Wanganui community safer."
The last prison census showed that 55 per cent of prisoners did not have a job before entering prison and that 52 per cent had no formal qualifications. Research shows that prisoners who find sustainable employment on release are less likely to reoffend.
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