Defence Works Formation planning session has DoD facilities in its sights


Ten years ago, then SA Army chief (now retired SANDF chief) Solly Shoke decided it was time the military took caring for its facilities into own hands and set into motion what is now the Works Formation.

The formation is headquartered in Pretoria and has a dedicated works regiment/unit in each of the nine provinces. Delegated officers from all met at the Works Training School in Pretoria West adjacent to Armscor’s Gerotek for the once a year planning session this week.

That the formation is, financial constraints notwithstanding, doing what was envisaged by Shoke comes from the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report. The current state of DoD facilities is rated “fair” and given a percentage value of 84.9%. “Bad” and “very bad” ratings combined are 7.2% with inadequate coming in at a 7.8% rating.

The efforts of the Works Formation were not massively successful in the 2020/21 financial year as far as refurbishment is concerned. Forty-three projects were planned with a meagre 10 completed and one cancelled. No details of what the work entailed and on which bases and at which units it was executed.

Another task assigned to the Works Formation is assessing the condition of national defence force facilities and primarily buildings for inclusion in the DoD asset register.

An SA Army Logistics Division non-commissioned officer reporting on the management planning session said all work unit officers commanding and planners used the three-day session to present and elaborate on plans for the future bearing in mind “DoD facilities are their core business”.

Believed to be among projects discussed was replacing a security fence at 6 SA Infantry Battalion in Makhanda. The fence around the base training area was apparently breached by local squatters hunting scrap metal. One incident of a person injured by what police said were “used hand grenades” is known. The fence replacement then Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in April was a Department of Public Works and Infrastructure project “placed on hold due to insufficient funding”.