The relationship between the national defence force and the Department of Public Works, referred to until as few years ago as “government’s landlord”, is not what could be termed “good” and this has now extended to another level with a Tshwane Metro councillor battling to assist Thaba Tshwane residents.
Ina Strijdom, whose ward 66 includes the military area, finds herself between a rock and a hard place trying to help constituents.
When soldiers and other military personnel resident in Thaba Tshwane or government-owned blocks of flats in Centurion suburbs come to her for help as a result of broken water pipes, no electricity and broken or stolen street lights she has to tell them the metro council has no jurisdiction and cannot help, but she will try via Public Works and the military, specifically the SA Army Works Formation. This is where the run around, according to her, starts.
“Public Works tell me I’m not resident in Thaba Tshwane so cannot report a problem to them. The same happens if I manage to contact a person at either the Works Formation or the Works Regiment. It’s frustrating because no-one seems to want to take responsibility,” she said after a recent incident where a burst water pipe was causing damage to a government-owned building. Using what she termed “other methods” she managed to have the water feed switched off and the break was “eventually” repaired.
According to a report in the Pretoria News, the Department of Public works indicated there is budget available for repairs and maintenance. Thaba Tshwane, according to the Pretoria daily, is the responsibility of the Department of Defence which has an allocation to undertaken repairs under R100 000.
It appears change is in the offing as the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed to defenceWeb it is “in the process of taking over management of Thaba Tshwane”. An SANDF spokesman said a study to determine the full scope of requirements for the military area was “currently underway” but did not give a timeline.
In addition to housing for military personnel, Thaba Tshwane is home to a number of SANDF units and facilities. These include 1 Military Hospital, the SA Army College and Peace Mission Training Centre as well as Army Group HQs, the SA Air Force and SANDF colleges.
At one stage the area was managed by a military town management board falling under the then General Support Base Thaba Tshwane with municipal functions assigned to it. The only service provided by Tshwane Metro is refuse removal on a contract basis.