Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure wants steps taken to ensure AFB Waterkloof’s operational efficiency is not affected by ground subsidence.
Following an oversight visit to the Centurion base known as the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) transport centre of excellence, committee chair Nolitha Ntobongwana is reported by Parliamentary Communication Services as saying the South African Air Force (SAAF), Independent Development Trust (IDT) and “the appointed service provider must ensure sinkholes do not impact the functionality, effectiveness and safety of the Waterkloof Air Force Base (WAFB) as a national key point”.
A Parliamentary Communication Services statement has it that the base “has a high-risk classification due to dolomitic soil conditions. To date several buildings on the 640 hectare base have been demolished as a result of ground movement brought on by water ingress from wet services”.
Portfolio committee members heard IDT is the implementing agent for rehabilitation and maintenance of sinkholes and dolomite at the base which is home to the SAAF VIP transport squadron (21 Squadron). They were informed the base is safe for use and is constantly monitored for the development of sinkholes.
Ntobongwana said, reportedly at the base: “We cannot have a national key point used by the President and Ministers declared a high risk area because of sinkhole development” and called on stakeholders to “ensure the base is fully safe for use by members of the Executive”.
A contractor was appointed in July to ensure AFB Waterkloof is safe and will report on at least six items. They are construction and/or replacement of water, sewer and storm water pipes; upgrading of dolomite non-compliant internal building wet services; water booster pump station and pump sets; joint sealing of canals and related valves, manholes and inlet structures; rehabilitation of sinkholes; and demolishing buildings abandoned due to ground movement.
“Clearing” and filling of sinkholes at the base started on 23 August with the contract “expected” to be of three years duration, according to the statement.
In addition to 21 Squadron, AFB Waterkloof is home to 28, 41 and 44 squadrons and units including the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC), Command and Control School, the Electronic Warfare Centre, Central Photographic Institute as well as sir servicing and protection units.