At the MID Yard in Honiara, the project staff produces a significant number of blocks daily. This endeavour is a part of activities of the Interlocking Block Pavement (IBP) technical cooperation project, supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID). The project aims to introduce IBP as a standard road pavement method in Solomon Islands.
The mass fabrication of interlocking blocks only by hand and with small equipment started in early July 2023 and is scheduled to continue until October. There are two primary methods for producing interlocking blocks: one uses a concrete block-making heavy machine, and the other uses plastic moulds and a vibrating table. The project introduces the latter method for local companies with small initial costs and suitability for small business startups.
“You will find many plastic moulds, a concrete mixer and two vibrating tables at the MID Yard. The materials used – cement, aggregate, sand and water – are commonly used for concrete production”. “This initial step involves applying oil inside the plastic moulds, like greasing the cake pan, and we’re using used-cooking oil for these blocks”, Clearish Kosoi, a project staff who has been working under the project since the beginning, smiles.
“Through this mass fabrication, participants can learn the techniques and knowledge of interlocking blocks, their production and quality management to become trainers of IBP to teach others and promote this technology”. Clearish is calling for interested participants to join them. “Some interested parties, such as SINU students and local construction companies, have been visiting and participating in the block production process”.
Lisa Masodo, a MID Yard officer assigned to the project since April 2023, reports that the project team has conducted multiple tests to determine the optimal proportions of mixing materials. “Initially, we began with the proportions set for hand-bang mixing. Still, we were astonished by the effectiveness of the vibrating table. This led us to reduce water, producing stronger concrete blocks”.
The project team is encountering difficulties due to variations in ingredient moisture caused by rain and contrasting dry conditions. However, this will be addressed through careful monitoring and adjustments in the production processes to ensure consistent quality and optimal results. Lisa says, “It’s been a great learning experience making blocks, and I wish MID will continue producing these blocks even after the project is finished. I want to be part of that block production, too”. IBP technique can be utilized easily by anyone and applied anywhere, unlike the generally conceived road construction with heavy equipment and machines with male workers.
The blocks produced will form an 80-meter long with 5m-wide paved road in the MID Yard. Approximately 13,000 blocks are required. The expected production period is around four months. “We have been producing for five weeks and achieving a steady pace of making 200 blocks daily. On the first day, we could only produce 60 pcs. Now we have three times more expertise”, smiles Fiona Siosi, another MID officer working at the Yard, whose concern is the safety measures of the workers. “I’ve been helping the project with the block production, and it has been an interesting experience learning new techniques”, Fiona continues. “This can also be applied in Munda”, Fiona’s home village and where the extensive development around the airport is ongoing.
Interested Participants Wanted!!!
IBP has the following features.
1. Blocks can be manufactured using simple equipment and techniques, and construction can be done manually without heavy machinery.
2. In case of cracks, fall-off, potholes, or other defects in the blocks, they can be easily patchworked by removing them in that spot only, repairing the roadbed, and then re-laying the blocks.
This means that even without specialized knowledge or experience, continuous dissemination and maintenance can be manageable by local workers.
The IBP Project team hopes many interested participants will join this activity.
If interested, please get in touch with Mr Ismael Alulu (firstname.lastname@example.org) at MID Yard.
Steps of the interlocking block production process:
Step 1. Grease inside the plastic moulds
Step 2. Measure the weight of the cement
Step 3. Measure the sand, aggregate and water using the pre-marked 10-litre bucket
Step 4. Place the aggregate into the mixer and add ¼ of water, then start the mixer
Step 5. Add cement & sand, and the remaining water into the mixer and mix until the ingredients are mixed
Step 6. Pour out the mixed concrete and scoop them into the plastic moulds
Step 7. Put the filled moulds on the vibrating table and vibrate them until evenly spread and smoothed
Step 8. Allow filled moulds to remain in place overnight for curing
Step 9. Remove the plastic moulds the following morning
Step 10. Transport the cured blocks to the storage yard
~ JICA & MID Joint Release ~