Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) maintains the “unending” repair and maintenance programme (RAMP) at 1 Military Hospital is a cause for “extreme concern” to the extent it wants former SA National Defence Force (SANDF) chief Solly Shoke to become involved.
The cost, to date of more than R1 billion, without any appreciable improvement in operations at what is supposedly the flagship healthcare facility in the SANDF, drew acerbic comment from the Democratic Alliance shadow defence and military veterans minister.
“Whoever was responsible for the RAMP acronym had no idea how close to the truth it is,” Kobus Marais told defenceWeb, adding by way of explanation “a ramp in Afrikaans is a disaster and that is precisely what 1 Mil is”.
Following a presentation on what is, isn’t and is supposedly happening at the multi-storey building on the northern side of Thaba-Tshwane, the JSCD in the form of co-chair Elleck Nchabeleng, wants a copy of the forensic report apparently commissioned by Shoke during his previous position as South Africa’s most senior soldier.
“The JSCD’s concerns are based on cost implications, with over R1 billion already expended as well as the cost of medical outsourcing, depleting an already constrained budget,” Nchabeleng said.
“We find it extremely problematic the RAMP that started in the 2005/06 financial year is yet to be concluded. It seems the project is turning into a milk cow with no end in sight, which negatively affects the fiscus,” he said.
The parliamentary oversight committee, one of two tasked with defence and military veterans’ matters, also expressed concern at the escalating costs of medical outsourcing resulting from the “stalled project” at 1 Mil.
“The committee was informed between the 2016/17 and 2019/20 financial years the Department of Defence (DoD) spent R138.7 million, R177.8 million, R130.3 million and R182.4 million on outsourcing medical care. Concerns are heightened by cost escalations, on one hand construction related and on the other for medical outsourcing,” he said.
Another indication of how low the once proud military heath flagship has sunk comes with loss of accreditation as a level 4 hospital by both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN). This means it cannot support external, both continental and international, peacekeeping operations “largely due to non-completion of repair and maintenance work commissioned in 2006”.
Even more concerning, according to co-chair Cyril Xaba, is “we cannot satisfactorily point to any value received from the expenditure so far”.