Wednesday, March 21, 2018
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SA’s military facilities, by and large, “acceptable” and “fair”

SANDF facilitiesBy its own admission, just one percent of the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) facilities are in “good condition” and at the other end of the scale two percent is described as “very poor”.

These descriptions come from the Department of Defence (DoD) annual report for the 2016/17 financial year, released late in November just on eight months after the financial term finished.

Its rating of defence facilities gives “acceptable” to 38%, “fair” to 55% and “poor” to four percent.

The report lists six facilities where major refurbishment projects were either started or set to get underway in the 2016/17 financial year. They are 1 SA Infantry Battalion (at design stage and expected to be completed in 2019); 44 Parachute Regiment (at design stage and expected to be completed in 2019); 1 Parachute Battalion (at first delivery stage and expected to be completed in 2018); School of Engineers (tender recommendation stage and expected to be completed in 2019); 2 Field Engineer Regiment (construction stage with completion date set as 2017) and 1 Special Services Battalion (construction stage with completion date set as 2017).

Other refurbishment projects underway, either with the Works Formation as lead contractor or the formation working alongside the Department of Public Works, cover a range of operations ranging from sewage upgrades, through to refitting of electrical installation as well as physical construction of buildings and roads. The projects are nationwide with some examples being AFB Bloemspruit in Free State, Naval Base Simon’s town in Western Cape, 2 Military Hospital in Western Cape, AFB Overberg in Southern Cape, oral health centre at Infantry School in Oudtshoorn, Tactical Intelligence Regiment in Potchefstroom, Military Police area office in Musina, Institute for Aviation Medicine in Centurion and the SA Air Force Blenny complex in Pretoria.

The maintenance backlog on military facilities is, according to the report, estimated at R6.8 billion.

The maintenance is attributed to low expenditure by the national Department of Public Works in executing planned maintenance tasks on DoD facilities, resulting in an increase in the maintenance backlog. As a control measure, a clause was included in the service level agreement (SLA) between the DoD and Public Works to the effect that the annual planned maintenance programme must be signed off by Defence, prior to execution. This will provide Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s department with an opportunity to “interrogate” the programme and provide inputs where applicable, before work is signed off.