Last week’s black-out at the Dunnottar military base – the second in six months – is not an unusual occurrence at SA National Defence Force (SANDF) bases and facilities, according to Kobus Marais.
“Having no power at military facilities and installations is not on. They should be treated as national strategic facilities and should never be without power,” the Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of defence and military veterans told defenceWeb.
Now in his second stint as the major opposition party’s defence and military veterans watchdog, Marais accepts he is a go-to for complaints about matters ranging from personnel through to the condition of equipment and lack of services, including electricity and water. In this regard he was on the contact list of SA National Defence Union (Sandu) national secretary Pikkie Greeff when the lights again went out at the east Gauteng base.
Understanding the importance of power at Dunnottar, as well as other sensitive bases where electronic intelligence is the order of the day, Marais went the personal rather than the official route and it paid dividends. Defence Works Formation (DWF) Chief Major General Joseph Ledwaba reacted and power was restored without Sandu having to go the legal route.
Marais said other bases and facilities experience similar problems.
“I am informed payment of electricity accounts was a Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) responsibility. Constant problems saw it moved to DWF [Defence Works Formation] for administration and management.
“In the Dunnottar case, DWPI apparently initially closed the municipal account (with Ekurhuleni Metro) but no arrangement was made for the account to be simultaneously moved to DWF. The formation then arranged for municipal account facilities apparently the reason for the large arrears amount (R2.8 million).
“I am assured by General Ledwaba DWF is working on securing timely payment for all essential services, including electricity, to all SANDF bases and facilities,” he said.