The Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV), now under the stewardship of minister Thandi Modise and previously presided over by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, “completely disregarded an unending repair and maintenance programme (RAMP)” at 1 Military Hospital, the flagship facility of the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS).
This criticism is coupled with a “completely unacceptable” kicker, illustrating both frustration and despair by Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) in ongoing efforts to establish accountability and reasons for the sorry state of 1 Mil.
Repair and maintenance work started as far back as October 2006 with Minister Patricia de Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) last week informing the JSCD the original RAMP contract was “through scope changes requested by DoD, converted to an upgrading project and date of completion revised to 30 November 2010”.
The DPWI presentation continues saying “the initial original scope and some of the additions which could be permitted under the contract were completed by the DPWI in 2011 and final account was taken in 2012”.
It then becomes almost a “he said/she said” issue with DPWI stating: “Numerous scope changes and late provision of access to different areas of the buildings for works to be executed, delayed the process”.
“Scope changes requested by the DoD could not be accommodated within the ambit of a variation order or any other provision under the contract and it was decided that a new project be registered and that new consultants be appointed to deal with further additions/requirements.
“During the planning phase for the new project, on request of DoD, the project was transferred from DPWI to DoD on 23 October 2014.”
Public Works and Infrastructure, known as government’s landlord during the tenure of a previous minister, told the JSCD it is now running a total facilities management (TFM) contract at 1 Mil for “maintenance of hard services”. The TFM contract started in August 2020 and is due to finish in August 2023.
TFM at 1 Mil includes preventative, reactive maintenance and minor works in mechanical, electrical and building, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, fire systems, special electrical installations which include transformers, generators and boilers. A private contractor – Servest – was appointed to, in the words of DPWI, “render services” at the military hospital on the northern side of Thaba Tshwane.
“The TFM contract, DPWI stipulates, “does not include repair and restoration of 1 Military Hospital, as it is a major capital works project executed by the Department of Defense (sic)”.
In a statement post last week’s JSCD meeting where both DoD and DPWI stated their respective cases on 1 Mil, committee co-chair Cyril Xaba express concern that Minister Modise’s department “failed” to brief the committee on a forensic report into what is and isn’t being done at 1 Mil.
“They have been sitting on it for about a year, citing it is yet to be taken through internal structures due to its sensitive nature,” Xaba said in the statement.
“The committee remains of the view the project is an unmitigated disaster, with the state continuing to spend millions in private healthcare due to delays in completing the repair project.
“The committee’s concerns centre around escalation of costs on one hand and construction and the cost of medical outsourcing on the other.
“The cost incurred for outsourced medical services is projected from 2010/11 to 2019/20 to be about R1.086 billion, which is unacceptable. Due to outsourcing, the department (DoD) continues to lose expertise at the facility.
“The project will remain a major point of focus for the committee and it intends to have the defence department account in the near future,” the statement reads.